Presidential Poll Dispute: Atiku Closes Case Against Tinubu With 27 Witnesses

0
258

Presidential Poll Dispute: Atiku Closes Case Against Tinubu With 27 Witnesses

Former Vice President and candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, Atiku Abubakar, who is seeking to nullify the election of President Bola Tinubu, on Friday, closed his case before the Presidential Election Petition Court, PEPC, sitting in Abuja.

Atiku, who called a total of 27 witnesses and tendered several documentary exhibits in evidence before the court, said his decision to close his case was in view of the fact that he had exhausted the days that were allocated for him to present his case against Tinubu.

“My lords, at this point in time, may we humbly inform your lordships that this will be our last witness,” Atiku’s lead counsel, Chief Chris Uche, SAN, told the court.

Continuing, Uche, SAN, said: “Having exhausted the days allocated to us, pursuant to the pre-hearing report and Paragraph 46(5) of the First Schedule to the Electoral Act, 2022, we most humbly apply the formally close the case for the petitioners.”

On its part, the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, through its lawyer, Mr. Kemi Pinhero, SAN, told the court that all the parties earlier met and agreed to defer the opening of defence by the Respondents till after the impending Sallah celebration.

Confirming the development, head of President Tinubu’s legal team, Chief Wole Olanipekun, SAN, begged the court to allow the Respondents, starting with INEC, to open their defence to Atiku’s petition, from July 3.

“My lords, all of us took into consideration some salient factors, especially the fact that some of us will love to travel to celebrate with our families and loved ones.

“Moreover, there is likely to be a two days public holidays next week. We will therefore plead your lordships to adjourn the case till after the Sallah celebration.

“We also want to assure your lordships that on our part, we will not exceed the days allotted to us.

“We will start and close out case the same week,” Olanipekun, SAN, added.

Following a no objection stance by counsel to the Petitioners, the Justice Haruna Tsammani-led five-member panel, adjourned the case till July 3 for INEC to open its defence to the petition.

The adjournment came after Atiku’s star witness, Mr. Mike Enahoro-Ebah, was discharged from the box.

Enahoro-Ebah had in the course of his testimony, tendered before the court, certified copies of academic qualifications of President Tinubu, which was admitted in evidence and marked as an exhibit.

Equally admitted in evidence and marked as an exhibit by the panel was Tinubu’s certificate of service from Mobile Oil Nigeria Plc, which formed part of his work records, as well as a copy of his Guinean Passport.

Enahoro-Ebah told the court that he applied and obtained the Form EC9, which contained the affidavit of personal particulars, which Tinubu submitted to the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, in aid of his qualifications to contest the presidential election.

He told the court that his lawyer in the United States of America, USA, also wrote to various schools that the 2nd Respondent, Tinubu, claimed to have attended, and obtained more information about him.

The witness told the court that among the documents he obtained from the USA, included Tinubu’s purported certificate from Chicago State University, which he said belonged to a female.

Also tendered before the court by the witness, was a transcript that was issued in 1977 by South West College, which he said equally established that the Tinubu that attended Chicago State University was a female.

Mr. Enahoro-Ebah told the court that whereas the forwarding letter from his lawyer in the USA, which contained Tinubu’s details, came on November 1, 2022, however, it was nof until April 2023 that he received a copy of the notorised judgement on criminal asset forfeiture proceedings that involved the 2nd Respondent.

Besides, he told the court that documents he obtained from INEC showed that the National Youth Service Corps, NYSC, certificate that Tinubu submitted in aid of his qualifications, bore the name, Adekunle.

Despite stiff objections from the INEC, President Tinubu and the All Progressives Congress, APC, who are Respondents in the matter, the court, admitted all the documents in evidence and marked them as Exhibits PDE-1 to PDE-5.

More so, the witness, said he had in 2022, instituted a direct criminal complaints against Tinubu before a Chief Magistrate Court in Abuja.

He told the court that the Chief Magistrate Court declined jurisdiction to entertain the case.

Dissatisfied with the action of the court of the Magistrate, the witness, said he wrote a petition to the Chief Judge of the Federal Capital Territory.

A copy of the court process was admitted in evidence and marked as an exhibit by the panel.

Asked if he inquired from the Guinean embassy, if the 2nd Respondent (Tinubu) denounced his purported citizenship.

The witness, said: “My lord, I did not have to because the former President of Guinea, Alpha Conde, admitted the issuance of the passport.”

Following insistence by Tinubu’s lawyer, Chief Olanipekun, SAN, that the said passport that was tendered in evidence, expired in 2020, the witness, said: “My lords, the data page indicated that it expired, but citizenship does not expire.”

Asked if he was aware that the judgement from the US District Court was not registered in Nigeria, the witness said he was only aware that the verdict was “adequately notorised.”

The witness said he was not aware of any letter the US Consulate in Nigeria wrote to the Inspector General of Police on February 4, 2003, stating that there was no warrant of conviction against Tinubu in the USA.

Asked if he was aware that the Chicago State University had on June 27, 2022, issued a public notice, where it stated that the 2nd Defendant not only attended the school but graduated with honours degree, the witness, said he was not aware of such letter, insisting that his case at the Magistrate court bordered on forgery.

The panel admitted in evidence, the said public notice from the Chicago State University which was tendered by Tinubu’s lawyer and marked it as exhibit XX2.

When he was shown the document from the US Court which he tendered and asked to confirm to the court if there was an arraignment, plea or trial that involved giving of evidence, the witness said: “My lords there was a plea to forfeit after his admission of guilt, but no conviction.”

Asked if as a lawyer, he would be happy to be scandalized by anyone, the witness, replied: “Because I don’t want to be scandalized, that is why I will not be involved in forgery of documents.”

Answering questions from counsel to the APC, Prince Fagbemi, SAN, the witness admitted that the said forfeiture judgement from the US had no certificate signed by a police officer but that of a licensed detective.

He said there was equally no finger print or picture on the court document.

The witness, who told the court that he is not a member of the APC, added, “my lords, I am a member of the Obidient movement.”