The Independent National Electoral Commission has given an explanation why it opposed documents tendered by the Labour Party and its candidate, Peter Obi, in aid of his petition against the election of President Bola Tinubu.
According to Punch, the electoral body had since the start of the hearing opposed the admissibility of various documents brought to the Presidential Election Petition Court by the petitioners as exhibits to prove their case and held, like other respondents, that reasons would be advanced during the address stage of the petition.
However, during Friday’s proceedings, counsel for INEC, Kemi Pinhero, SAN, told the court that the electoral body objected to the tendering of the election result sheets because the petitioners went beyond the areas where the election was being disputed.
He said those local government areas improperly brought into the proceedings of the court are strange to the petition and cannot stand in the face of the law.
Interjecting, the chairman of the five-man panel, Justice Harunna Tsammani, held that it was unacceptable for the lawyer to give reasons for their objection after the commission had indicated that it would advance reasons at the address stage of proceedings.
Subsequently, Peter Afoba, SAN, who conducted the proceedings for Obi and LP tendered before the PEPC, additional exhibits to back up their petition against Tinubu which were admitted and marked as Exhibits PB 16 to PB 21.
The exhibits, which were admitted in evidence by the Justice Haruna Tsammani-led panel, consisted of certified true copies of results of the presidential election from six states of the federation – Adamawa, Bayelsa, Oyo, Edo, Lagos and Akwa Ibom states.
Although Obi won the presidential election in Lagos State, he alleged in his petition that there was massive suppression of votes in the state.
The petitioners also tendered evidence before the court, including the result from Bida Local Government Area in Niger State, which was admitted as Exhibit PE 24.
Earlier on Thursday, he had tendered the results of the election from select local government areas in Rivers, Niger, Benue, Cross River, Osun, and Ekiti but did not tender that of Bida LGA in Niger.
As in the case of INEC, other respondents objected to the admissibility of the document and said they would equally reserve their reasons for objecting until the final address stage of the petition.
The court thereafter admitted results from 21 LGAs in Adamawa State and marked them as Exhibits PH 1 to PH 21. It also admitted the results of the presidential election from eight LGAs in Bayelsa State and marked them as Exhibits PJ1 to PJ 8.
Results from 31 LGAs in Oyo that the court admitted as exhibits were marked PK 1 – PK 31, while results from 18 LGAs in Edo State were marked as Exhibits PL1- PL 18.
Further tendered were results from 20 LGAs in Lagos State, which were admitted as Exhibits PM 1 – PM 20, and results from 31 LGAs in Akwa Ibom State, accepted in evidence as Exhibits PN 1–PN 31.
The panel adjourned to Monday, May 5, for a further hearing in the matter.