THE Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) on Friday, June 2, opposed moves by Labour Party (LP) presidential candidate, Peter Obi, to tender election documents as evidence before the Presidential Election Petition Tribunal.
The tribunal is hearing petitions filed against the election of President Bola Tinubu of the All Progressives Congress (APC) in the February 25 presidential election.
Obi and the LP submitted the documents, which were the Certified True Copies (CTC) of results sheets used for the February 25 election, as exhibits to support their petition.
During the proceedings on Friday, June 2, INEC’s counsel, Kemi Pinhero, objected to the admission of the documents, arguing that some of the documents were unfamiliar and not part of the ones pleaded by the petitioners, as agreed upon during the pre-hearing session.
However, the five-man panel, led by Haruna Simon Tsammani, ruled that it was improper for INEC’s lawyer to interfere in the proceedings since all parties involved had agreed to offer explanations during the address stage of the proceedings.
Despite this objection, the court accepted supplementary evidence from parts of Rivers State and Niger State that had been presented on Thursday, June 1.
Additionally, exhibits from six other states, namely Adamawa, Bayelsa, Oyo, Edo, Lagos, and Akwa Ibom, tendered by Obi legal team were admitted.
A breakdown of the newly submitted exhibits revealed that forms EC8A were admitted in 21 local government areas of Adamawa, 8 in Bayelsa, 31 in Oyo, 18 in Edo, 20 in Lagos, and 31 in Akwa Ibom.
All the respondents in the case objected to the documents presented before the court.
Following the submissions made by all parties, the tribunal adjourned to Monday, June 5.
In their petition, Obi and the LP argued that when Tinubu’s running mate, Kashim Shettima, became the vice presidential candidate, he was still nominated as the APC candidate for the Borno Central Senatorial election.
They also challenged Tinubu’s eligibility, alleging that he was previously indicted and fined $460,000.00 by a United States District Court for an offence involving dishonesty and drug trafficking.
Obi, who came third according to results announced by INEC, claimed that the election was invalid due to corrupt practices and non-compliance with the provisions of the Electoral Act, 2022.
He argued that INEC breached its regulations and guidelines by not prescribing and deploying technological devices for voter accreditation, verification, continuation, and authentication as required.
The petitioner sought a declaration from the court that Tinubu was not qualified to contest the election and that all votes recorded for him were wasted.
He also requested the court to determine that he received a majority of lawful votes and satisfied constitutional requirements to be declared the winner.
In the alternative, he called for the cancellation of the election and the conduct of a fresh election in which Tinubu, Shettima, and the APC would not participate.