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Presidential polls: Tribunal admits documents backing Yar’Adua’s victory

Posted by From GODWIN TSA AND JOHN PAUL SARKI, Abuja on 2007/12/07 | Views: 362 |

Presidential polls: Tribunal admits documents backing Yar’Adua’s victory


Attempts by two presidential candidates in the April 21 elections, former Vice President Atiku Abubakar and General Muhammad Buhari to prevent President Umaru Yar’Adua and his deputy, Dr. Goodluck Jonathan from tendering some sensitive documents to justify their victory at the polls, failed on Thursday, at the presidential election tribunal.

...Fixes Jan 28 for judgment

Attempts by two presidential candidates in the April 21 elections, former Vice President Atiku Abubakar and General Muhammad Buhari to prevent President Umaru Yar’Adua and his deputy, Dr. Goodluck Jonathan from tendering some sensitive documents to justify their victory at the polls, failed on Thursday, at the presidential election tribunal.

Accordingly, the documents which included the entire results of Lagos State for the said election, which Atiku, the presidential candidate of the Action Congress (AC) was declared winner and Yar’Adua’s Certificate of Return (COR) issued him by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) were tendered and admitted in evidence.

It was counsel to Yar’Adua, Chief Wole Olanipekun (SAN) who tendered the documents from the Bar.
Olanikpekun had told the tribunal, he was going to adduce reasons for the tendering of the Lagos State results in his final address to the tribunal. Meanwhile, all the respondents named in the consolidated petitions opened and closed their defence on Thursday.

Buhari, who was the presidential candidate of the All Nigeria Peoples Party (ANPP) and Atiku are pressing for the outright cancellation of the results of the presidential polls on grounds of irregularities, rigging, election malpractices and non-compliance with the Electoral Act 2006 that allegedly trailed the conduct of the election.

Named as respondents in the petitions are, Yar’Adua, Goodluck, the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), police, chief of defence staff and Peoples Democratic Party (PDP).
But counsel to Buhari, Chief Mike Ahamba (SAN), vehemently opposed the tendering of those documents when Olanipekun moved to tender them.

In his objection, Ahmaba had contended that the respondents were barred under paragraph 2 of the practice direction, from bringing in any document at the present stage of the proceedings.

Pursuing his line of objection, Ahamba noted that the provision made it mandatory for the respondents to frontload their reply to the petitions with the documents, while filing. Ahamba was joined in this line of argument by counsel to Atiku, Mr. Emeka Ngige SAN to the effect that the Lagos results would not come into the petition, for reason that the petitioners did not plead them.

But responding to the objection raised by counsel to the petitioners, Olanipekun submitted that the
respondents are permitted by the law to lead in evidence; pleadings made by the petitioners and bring in documents listed by them, if the petitioners did not do so.
In his ruling, the Chairman of the tribunal, Justice James Ogebe held that “since the documents being sought to tender are listed in the respondents’ reply, Paragraph 2 of the Practice
Direction cannot override the original position of the law. The documents are admitted for what they are worth. It is also on record that Lagos results are not in dispute”.

The tribunal gave a breakdown of the documents as follow; Form EC8D, results from the state, was listed as Exhibit Yar’Adua 2A, Form EC8C, from the Local Government in the state, listed as Exhibit Yar’Adua 2B 1-16, Form EC8B, results from the Wards, listed as Exhibit Yar’Adua 2C 1-409 and Form EC8A, results from the Units, listed as Exhibit Yar’Adua 2D 1-8,444.
Earlier in the day, counsel to INEC, Chief Kanu Agabi SAN had tendered from the bar, the list of polling units from the 36 states and the FCT, which was listed as EP2/INEC/1-35.
Agabi also adopted the witnesses’ depositions to the two petitions, a position that was also taken by other respondents.

Justice Ogebe had while fixing January 28, 2008 for the adoption of briefs by both parties, gave the respondents in the petitions 21 days to file their addresses, while the petitioners were given 20 days upon receipt to reply, with the respondents having another seven days to reply on point of law.
Justice Ogebe noted that public holidays would also count in the days for the exchange of addresses.

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