INEC is frustrating us, withholding documents – Atiku’s lawyers cry out
Lawyers for former Vice President, Atiku Abubakar in the petition against the election of President Bola Ahmed Tinubu before the Presidential Election Petition Court (PEPC) in Abuja have accused INEC of withholding vital documents.
They said the action of INEC is frustrating their case before the court.
On account of this, hearing was abruptly adjourned on Tuesday by the court due to alleged refusal of the Independent National Electoral Commission to make some critical electoral materials available to Atiku’s legal team.
The Court shifted further hearing in the petition till June 7 pending the time the electoral body is expected to have responded to the request of Atiku and the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) to release the documents to them.
At Tuesday’s proceedings, Eyitayo Jegede, a Senior Advocate of Nigeria (SAN), who conducted proceedings for Atiku had sought to tender forms EC8A from 10 out of 21 Local Government Areas of Kogi State to establish the petition against Tinubu.
The exhibits, mainly documents used for the February 25 presidential election from Ankpa, Dekina, Idah, Ofu, Olamaboro, Yagba East, Yagba West, Kabba-Bunu, Igalamela Odolu and Kogi LGAs of the State, were sought to be tendered by the PDP presidential candidate.
Although, the schedule of documents to the effect was filed along with the exhibits, the Court, however, noted that tendering such sensitive exhibits in piecemeals would not be of any help especially in the areas of marking and numbering them.
Jegede, who rose to the questions put to him by the Court, stood his ground and blamed INEC for deliberate refusal to supply his client with the vital documents.
The Senior lawyer told the Court that Atiku had paid as much as N6m for the supply of certified true copies of the exhibits, lamenting that the electoral body had not been forthcoming and cooperating as required and envisaged.
Jegede explained that to save the situation, the legal team of the former Vice President had to subpoena top officials of INEC to compel them to bring the required documents before the Court on their own.
However, in the end, the senior lawyer sought for a 24-hour adjournment to enable him approach the electoral body to do the needful.
Following no objection from counsels to the Respondents, INEC represented by Abubakar Mahmud SAN, Tinubu represented by Chief Wole Olanipekun, SAN and the All Progressives Congress (APC) having Lateef Fagbemi, SAN as lead counsel, the Tribunal chairman, Justice Haruna Simon Tsammani, adjourned the matter till June 7.