INEC frustrating my petition against Tinubu, Obi tells court

….insists on presidential election results from Rivers, Sokoto

….Obi, LP refused to pay N1.5m certification fee – INEC

The Candidate of the Labour Party, LP, Mr. Peter Obi, on Wednesday, accused the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, of frustrating the petition he filed to challenge the outcome of the 2023 presidential election.

At the resumed proceedings in the matter, Obi, through his team of lawyers led by Dr. Livy Uzoukwu, SAN, told the Presidential Election Petition Court, PEPC, sitting in Abuja, that the electoral body refused to make available to him, documents he required to establish that the election was not won by candidate of the ruling All Progressives Congress, APC, Asiwaju Bola Tinubu.

Shortly after all the lawyers that are representing parties in the case announced their appearance, lead counsel for Obi and the LP, Dr. Uzoukwu, SAN, drew attention of the court to INEC’s alleged refusal to furnish his team with some of the sensitive materials that were used for the election.

He told the court that among documents INEC “has stubbornly refused to provide”, included results of the presidential election from Rivers State.

“My Lords, up till now we are yet to get about 70% of all the documents we required from INEC.

“We have made efforts, including meeting with Chairman of INEC who made commitment that the documents will be made available to us, yet nothing happened.

“We have also met the legal department of INEC which promised to intervene. Some documents were provided but not up to 30%.

“A typical example is that of Rivers State where the Resident Electoral Commissioner boldly told us that they do not have any Form EC8A available to give us.

“We required that he should put it in writing but that was not done.

“INEC has stubbornly refused to provide the documents not withstanding that I led the team on give different occasions to INEC headquarters.

“I have written five letters to INEC, clearly requesting for documents, they refused,”, Uzoukwu, SAN, told the court, insisting that his team would not be able to effectively establish their case without access to the electoral materials.

He, therefore, notified the court of his intention to apply for a subpoena to be issued against the INEC and its Chairman, Prof. Mahmoud Yakubu.

Responding, INEC’s lead lawyer, Mr. A. B. Mahmood, SAN, told the court that it was not true that the petitioners were denied access to documents they requested for.

He told the court that there are protocols involved in the process of releasing such documents, among which he said included payment of copies and for certification.

Mahmood, SAN, told the court that whereas Obi refused to pay the sum of N1.5m for certification of materials he requested with the respect to results of the presidential election in Sokoto state, he also rejected some documents that were made available to him in Rivers state on the ground that all the documents he requested from been released to him at the same time.

He equally told the court that Obi’s legal team walked out of a meeting the parties held on May 16, where they had agreed to put heads together to sort out some of the requested documents.

“My lords the commission is committed to co-operate with both parties and the court to ensure expeditious hearing of this case.

“If there is any issue that is brought to my attention, it will be resolved. The PDP, even though they are not here, are cooperating and receiving what they request for”, INEC’s lawyer added.

On his part, the President-elect, Tinubu, through his lead counsel, Chief Wole Olanipekun, SAN, that he had no problem as INEC provided all the documents he needed to defend his election victory.

He commended INEC’s legal team for assisting to ensure the availability of the requested materials.

Tinubu blamed Obi’s inability to get the electoral materials on his refusal to pay the required fee for certification.

More so, Olanipekun, SAN, argued that Obi could not at this stage of the case, apply for a subpoena to be issued against the INEC and its Chairman.

“On our part my lord, we are always ready,” Tinubu’s lawyer added.

Meanwhile, the Justice Haruna Tsammani-led five-member panel drew attention of the parties that the 14 days duration allowed for pre-hearing session to be conducted on the petition, would elapse by Sunday.

Specifically, the LP candidate, Obi, in the joint petition he filed alongside his party, marked: CA/PEPC/03/2023, is praying the court to declare that the President-elect, Tinubu, was not duly elected by majority of the lawful votes cast at the election.

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