On Friday, three Peoples Democratic Party’s state collation agents testified before the Presidential Election Petitions Court sitting in Abuja on how results in the election won by President Bola Tinubu was allegedly “changed” in Borno, Ebonyi and Niger states.
The three witnesses, however, admitted that they did not state the polling units or wards where the alleged irregularities were committed in the statement on oath they deposed before the PEPC.
The presidential candidate of the PDP, Atiku Abubakar, is among three petitioners currently challenging the outcome of the 2023 presidential election declared by the Independent National Electoral Commission in favour of President Bola Tinubu.
So far, the PDP has tendered as evidence, the 2023 Presidential Election Results, INEC Forms EC8A (which is the summary of presidential election results) and Form EC8E series for the 36 states and the Federal Capital Territory, INEC certified documents in respect of number of PVCs collected for 2023 presidential election and the Bimodal Voter Accreditation System BVAS machine-printed report for the 36 states, including FCT.
Other documents tendered are additional Forms EC8A as downloaded by INEC (for 17 local government of Abia state and INEC authentication certificate), Forms EC8As for Bayelsa, Kaduna, Ogun states, certified true copies of Forms EC8Es from Kaduna and Kogi state.
These documents have been objected to by the Independent National Electoral Commission, Tinubu, Vice President Kashim Shettima and the All Progressives Congress.
But the documents were all admitted as exhibits by the court in line with the PEPC directive that no Certified INEC materials shall be objected to at the point of tendering from the bar.
THE WHISTLER reports that on Thursday, PDP counsel Chris Uche SAN, presented his legal team’s first three witnesses (State Collation agents for Ogun, Abia and Kogi states) before the court for examination and cross-examination by lawyers.
They all insisted the election was allegedly marred by non-compliance to the Electoral Act, harassment of voters and inflation of votes in favour of Tinubu.
At the continuation of the hearing on Friday, PDP lead counsel, Chris Uche SAN, said he was continuing his case with the presentation of additional three witnesses.
Former House of Representatives member, Sani Kutigi, was then presented as the fourth witness.
He testified that he served as State Collation Agent for Niger State but did not sign the Form EC8D (PC26), that is, the collated and summary of results for Niger State, after final results were announced by the INEC state collation officer.
Under cross examination, INEC’s lawyer Oluwakemi Pinheiro asked him if he was familiar with the process of election.
He said he was familiar with the process of the election, adding “I voted in the presidential election.”
Chief Akin Olujimi SAN, counsel for Tinubu and Shettima, asked the witness to confirm that the PDP polling units agents performed their job very well at the respective polling units in the state.
“Absolutely,” the witness replied.
Olujimi pressed him further on his witness statement on oath where he alleged the actual results were not transmitted, asking “but did you state the actual results?”
He said he did not.
When queried by Lateef Fagbemi SAN, APC’s lawyer, the witness affirmed he did not state any figure different from the results announced by INEC for Niger State, in his statement on oath.
The fourth witness, Nicholas Sheriza, was then called up by the PDP counsel.
He was the PDP State Collation Agent for Borno state.
Pinheiro asked him to confirm to the court whether the agents of PDP did well during the election.
Sheriza said they performed well only where they were allowed to do so.
“The real election was held at the polling units but the real disaster happened at the collation centre where rigging took place,” the witness said.
Tinubu’s counsel, Olujimi, asked him if he stated the polling units where results were marred in his statement on oath.
But Sheriza said he did not, adding that “The disaster happened at the Ward Collation where the results were changed. When you compare the results from ward level and polling units, they are at variance “
But Olujimi asked him if he stated the supposed disaster in his statement on oath and he replied he never did because he could not input all the developments at the entire polling units in his statement.
When APC counsel, Fagbemi cross-examined him on whether the PDP had agents at the LGA collation centre, the witness said they did.
The sixth witness came up, whose name and description was identified as Silas Joseph Onu Esq, State Collation Agent for Ebonyi state.
INEC’s lawyer asked him to confirm if his duty was just limited to collation at the centre.
“There was nothing like that, we were given permission to move across the state, not just collation centre,” Onu replied, adding he received information from agents in polling units, wards and LGAs.
“Were your agents given results at polling units?” the INEC lawyer further asked, to which Onu replied “Some of the agents collected the results but others were chased away”.
Olujimi asked him to confirm his knowledge of polling units in Ebonyi.
The witness confirmed there were 2,964 polling units in 13 LGAs and 171 wards.
“You said Infractions occurred in all the polling units in the state but were you there?” Olujimi further asked, to which the witness responded that he visited several places.
APC’s lawyer, Fagbemi asked him if he stated the polling units he visited or where results were marred.
“It is clearly not there,” the witness said, adding he received reports directly from agents from all the polling units.
The court discharged all the witnesses from the testimony dock and adjourned proceedings to Monday, as agreed by lawyers.