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Atiku storms tribunal, confident of fair trial

Posted by By GODWIN TSA Abuja on 2007/10/31 | Views: 615 |

Atiku storms tribunal, confident of fair trial


Former Vice President and Presidential Candidate of the Action Congress (AC) in the April 21 elections, Alhaji Atiku Abubakar on Tuesday stormed the presidential election tribunal with hundreds of his supporters to witness proceedings as the tribunal received exhibits from his ANPP counterpart, Muhammadu Buhari who was also in court.

Former Vice President and Presidential Candidate of the Action Congress (AC) in the April 21 elections, Alhaji Atiku Abubakar on Tuesday stormed the presidential election tribunal with hundreds of his supporters to witness proceedings as the tribunal received exhibits from his ANPP counterpart, Muhammadu Buhari who was also in court.

The tribunal admitted into evidence 16 bags containing exhibits of the controversial election from 29 states of the federation from General Buhari in his attempt to discredit the result of the April 21 presidential polls.

The former ruler told the tribunal that there were other exhibits he wished to tender on the next adjourned date fixed for November 12, 2007 as a result of the judges’ conference.

Some of Atiku’s supporters who accompanied him to court at about 8.45 am, included the former Foreign Affairs Minister, Chief Tom Ikimi, Chief Oyewole Fasawe, Alhaji Lai Mohammed and Dr. Iyorchia Ayu, amongst others.
After settling down in the courtroom, he waved to his admirers and to General Buhari who was already seated in the court.
Buhari returned the gesture with a smile while supporters of both petitioners exchanged jokes and pleasantries.

Atiku agreed to the earlier arrangement to provide evidence by deposition to affidavit, adding that since what was paramount in his mind was to get justice, he would abide by any method adopted.
The implication is that he now has two weeks to provide the affidavits of his witnesses and submit to court all exhibits he would rely upon in proving his case.

Speaking with newsmen outside the court, Atiku who still limps, said he was satisfied with the speed and found the whole proceedings very exciting.


The former Vice President expressed optimism about the outcome of the petition even as he refrained from making further comment, saying it would be prejudicial to comment on the subject matter before the court.
He explained that agreeing to depose to affidavit does not mean that he has abandoned his witnesses as they would be cross examined by the other side, if need be.

The duo of Emeka Ngige and Mike Ahamba, both Senior Advocates of Nigeria, expressed satisfaction with the pace with which the tribunal was going through the consolidated petition, adding jokingly that: “Although they say speed kills, in the case of the tribunal, it would assist it in arriving at the justice of the case."

Buhari’s first witness, Emmanuel Iwuamadi, an Agriculturist, had told the tribunal that he was appointed by the petitioner [Buhari] as his representative that would inspect INEC documents used in the elections.
According to him: “I made a deposition on April 21st, 2007 and I hereby adopt them, when I made the depositions I did not know that the petitioner would appoint me as his representative that would inspect the INEC documents.

“I started the job at INEC office in Owerri, there I inspected the documents used in Imo state, which are the ones that are available, and from there I came to Abuja and in addition to the documents from Imo State, I inspected documents from 11 states.”

The states, according to him are, Rivers, Akwa-Ibom, Cross River, Bayelsa, Edo, Jigawa, Taraba, Ekiti, Osun and Nasarawa. The documents he said he photocopied were certified by INEC.
When he sought to tender the said documents, Counsel to INEC, Kanu Agabi (SAN), Chief Wole Olanipekun (SAN) for Yar’Adua and Vice President Goodluck Jonathan, raised objections.
Agabi said that he is opposed to the tendering of the documents on the grounds that
they were not pleaded.

Olanipekun in his submission told the tribunal that he is opposed to the admissibility of the said documents because there were no reference of the said documents EC 25 A.
“Even if they were there, the list will not supplement the pleadings, in the petition proper, the petitioner took time to attack states one by one, they exempted Rivers State, and they certified it as clean. The documents tendered by the witness are not in conformity with the norms, there shall be no oral depositions.”

Responding, Counsel to General Muhammadu Buhari, Chief Mike Ahamba (SAN) drew the attention of the tribunal to the practice direction as it relates to evidence adding: “What is important to this tribunal is to prove whether the documents that were brought in are relevant to the petition. Paragraph seven of our petition challenges every figure put down on the elections.

He said: “Under paragraph 9 we pleaded various cases of non-arrival of election materials, it is not true that Rivers State was not cited in our petition, form EC 25 A is electoral materials receipt and it is defined by the law and is accompanied in our petition. The manual draws its strength from the Electoral Act and it’s therefore part of it and we do not need to plead it.”

According to him, “all we need is evidence to prove our case; we need not plead the document,” citing the case of MCC Versus Azubuike reported in 1990, 3 NWLR part 136, page 74 with special reference to page 86, and Osho versus Foreign Finance

Corporation, 1991, NWLR part at page 154 to back his arguments.
Ruling on the objection, the Chairman of the Tribunal, Justice James Ogebe said: “it is annoying that even INEC is objecting to the admissibility of its own documents, facts cannot be rejected and the objection is overruled.”

Iwumadi, in tendering the said documents told the Tribunal that “some of the forms EC8 B from these states pre-date the elections, some of them are dated April 20th ,2007, other were dated April 21st ,2007 while others had dates like April 24th and 28th April, 2007.

“There were instances where one agent signed all the result sheets, my Lords what I want to say is that there are discrepancies in these documents, there were also letters from electoral officers stating that there was violence and that some relevant elections result were missing.”
He further alleged that some of the collated results in Rivers State were signed by security men as party agents while he said that in Omuma Local government Area of the state, there were two conflicting results.

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Fay(Katy, Texas, US)says...

Actually translates to bravehearted.