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Obi accuses INEC chair, Mahmood Yakubu, of evading subpoena in petition against Tinubu

June 14, 2023

The presidential candidate of the Labour Party, Peter Obi, on Wednesday, informed the Presidential Election Petition Court in Abuja that INEC chairman, Mahmood Yakubu, has been evading service of a subpoena on him.

Mr Obi wants Mr Yakubu to testify before the five-member panel of the court concerning his petition challenging President Bola Tinubu’s victory in the 25 February election.

His claim that Mr Yakubu was evading service of a subpoena came barely 24 hours after the lawyers to the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and its presidential candidate, Atiku Abubakar, also signalled that they would be bringing the INEC chair to testify in court on the subpoena. Mr Yakubu was scheduled to testify in their case on Thursday.

Mr Obi’s legal team, led by Livy Uzoukwu, has been at loggerheads with Nigeria’s electoral commission over their inability to access electoral documents to aid their case.

The presidential candidate and his party, the Labour Party, in their joint petition, urged the court to nullify Mr Tinubu’s victory owing to INEC’s alleged fraudulent activities during the disputed presidential election.

At the resumed hearing on Wednesday, Mr Obi’s lawyer, Livy Uzoukwu, said the office of the electoral umpire’s chairman declined to accept a subpoena served on Mr Yakubu to produce some documents before the court.

Mr Uzoukwu’s disclosure came about after Mr Obi’s legal team exhausted electoral documents it was tendering before the court.

He said the team would have loved to continue with tendering of more documentary evidence but for the refusal of Mr Yakubu’s office to accept a subpoena served on him to produce some documents.

They blamed the INEC boss for hindering the progress of their suit.

INEC denies Mr Obi’s claim

Reacting to Mr Uzoukwu’s claim, INEC’s lawyer, Kemi Pinheiro, asked Mr Obi’s legal team to stop blaming the electoral commission for its tardiness in conducting the case.

Mr Pinheiro, a SAN, said it had become Mr Uzoukwu’s strategy to blame respondents in the petition for their inability to prosecute their case diligently.

“It has become a habit. Whenever they want to seek an adjournment, they look for somebody to whip. It cannot be true that the office of the INEC Chairman refuses a subpoena.

“Don’t use INEC as a whipping boy. If they have nothing else to do today, they should just stay so. It is their day. It is not correct that the office of INEC Chairman refused to accept a subpoena,” Mr Pinhero told Mr Uzoukwu.

Background

Since the court began substantive hearing of Mr Obi’s petition against Mr Tinubu’s victory on 30 May, his lawyers have largely tendered documentary evidence as exhibits to support their case.

The evidence so far comprised electoral documents like results sheets and Bimodal Voters Accreditation System (BVAS) machines reports, amongst others that were used in the conduct of the presidential election.

During the pre-hearing session of the court, which lasted two weeks, Mr Obi indicated that he would call 50 witnesses to substantiate his claims of electoral malpractices against INEC and Mr Tinubu.

But Mr Obi has only called two witnesses as the 23 June deadline for prosecuting his case inches close.

The court gave him three weeks to assemble witnesses and tender documents to prove his case/

Afterwards, the court adjourned further hearing in the suit until Thursday.

His case is the only of the three filed in court to challenge Mr Tinubu’s victory in the February election.

(Premium Times)

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