Alhaji Atiku Abubakar, the presidential candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), has brought forth two additional witnesses to provide further evidence supporting his claim of malpractice during the February 25 election.
These two witnesses bring the total number of witnesses called by Abubakar to 18, out of the planned 100 witnesses for the proceedings.
Abubakar and his party have filed petitions against the election of President Bola Tinubu and his party, the All Progressives Congress (APC), as well as the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), at the Presidential Election Petition Court in Abuja.
They are contesting the election’s outcome on the grounds that INEC, the electoral body, failed to conduct the election in accordance with the provisions of the Electoral Act 2022. During the hearing on Saturday, one of Abubakar’s new witnesses, Ms. Alheri Ayuba, expressed her dissatisfaction with her inability to upload the results from her polling unit onto INEC’s Result Viewing Portal.
“There was a form that I filled at the ward centre where I stated that I was not happy at my inability to transmit the result.
“I could not log into the INEC portal. If I had logged into the system and posted the result perhaps it could have “pending’’ status and when network is restored, it would upload,’’ she said.
The witness also informed the court that she did not receive any inducement or influence from any politician prior to or during the election.
In the case of the second witness, Ms. Sadiya Haruna, she informed the court that the Bimodal Voter Accreditation System (BVAS) machine she used experienced a malfunction.
Haruna explained that the manually entered result from her polling unit was what she presented to the ward collation officer, and that party agents assigned to the unit closely monitored the entire process. She mentioned taking a photo of the manually collated result on the result sheet along with the BVAS machine, but she couldn’t confirm whether it was saved in the machine or not.
Earlier, objections were raised by the counsel representing the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), Mr. Kemi Pinhero (SAN), as well as Mr. Akin Olujimi (SAN) and Mr. Abiodun Fashanu (SAN), who represented President Bola Tinubu and Vice-President Kashim Shettima, respectively. They objected to admitting the witnesses’ statements as evidence.
The counsel argued that their reasons for objecting to the admission of the witnesses’ statements on oath would be presented during the stage of final addresses. However, they did not oppose the witnesses’ invitation to testify before the court or the presentation of their employment letters as Presiding Officers for the election by INEC.
Mr. Chris Uche (SAN), Abubakar’s counsel, who led both witnesses in presenting their testimony, requested the court to disregard the respondents’ objections and admit the witnesses’ testimonies.
Presiding Justice Haruna Tsammani reserved the ruling on the objections until the final judgment.
Justice Tsammani also scheduled the next hearing in the petition for June 13.