INEC frustrating our petition, Peter Obi tells election tribunal

Presidential Candidate of Labour Party, in the February 25, 2023, election in Nigeria, has accused the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, of frustrating his petition.

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

He is also asking the tribunal to declare that since Tinubu was not duly elected by majority of the lawful votes cast in the election, therefore, his return as the winner of the presidential election, was unlawful, unconstitutional and of no effect whatsoever.

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Obi through his counsel, Dr. Livy Uzoukwu, SAN, at Wednesday, hearing by the Presidential Election Petition Court, sitting in Abuja, said INEC has stubbornly refused to provide it results of the elections, particularly that of Rivers State.

Uzoukwu said: “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 would 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 percent.

“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 five different occasions to INEC headquarters.

“I have written five letters to INEC, clearly requesting for documents, they refused.”

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He insisted that his team would not be able to effectively establish their case without access to the electoral materials, as he hinted of his plans to apply for a subpoena to be issued against the INEC and its Chairman, Prof. Mahmoud Yakubu.

But INEC counsel, Mr. Abubarkar Mahmood, SAN, told the court that whereas Obi refused to pay the sum of N1.5million for certification of materials he requested for with respect to results from Sokoto State, he also rejected some documents from Rivers State on the ground that all the documents he requested for should be released to him at the same time.

He said: “My lords, the commission is committed to cooperate 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,” he said.

On his part, the President-elect, Bola Tinubu, through his counsel, Chief Wole Olanipekun, SAN, blamed Obi’s inability to get the electoral materials on his refusal to pay the required fee for certification.

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

For him, counsel for All Progressives Congress, APC, Prince Lateef Fagbemi, SAN, said: “It is in the interest of everybody that this matter is quickly disposed of.”

The court adjourned further hearing till  Friday.

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