The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) agreed with the parties to postpone the opening of the defense by the respondents until after the upcoming Sallah celebration.
By Musa Ibrahim, Abuja
Atiku Abubakar, the former Vice President and candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), concluded his case before the Presidential Election Petition Court (PEPC) in Abuja on Friday. Atiku, who aimed to invalidate the election of President Bola Tinubu, stated that he was closing his case because he had utilized all the allocated days to present his arguments against Tinubu. Atiku’s lead counsel, Chief Chris Uche, informed the court that they had called 27 witnesses and submitted various documentary evidence during the proceedings.
The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) agreed with the parties to postpone the opening of the defense by the respondents until after the upcoming Sallah celebration. President Tinubu’s legal team requested that the defense begin on July 3, stating the need for some team members to travel and spend time with their families during the holidays. They assured the court that they would complete their defense within the allotted time. The petitioner’s counsel did not object to the proposed adjournment.
The Justice Haruna Tsammani-led panel, comprising five members, granted the adjournment and scheduled the opening of INEC’s defense to Atiku’s petition for July 3. Prior to the adjournment, Atiku’s star witness, Mr. Mike Enahoro-Ebah, concluded his testimony. During his testimony, Enahoro-Ebah submitted certified copies of President Tinubu’s academic qualifications, including a Guinean passport and a certificate of service from Mobile Oil Nigeria Plc. The witness also presented documents obtained from the United States, including Tinubu’s purported certificate from Chicago State University, which he claimed belonged to a female.
Enahoro-Ebah informed the court that he had filed a criminal complaint against Tinubu before a Chief Magistrate Court in Abuja, but the court declined jurisdiction. Dissatisfied with this decision, he wrote a petition to the Chief Judge of the Federal Capital Territory. The panel admitted these documents as evidence. When questioned about Tinubu’s Guinean citizenship, Enahoro-Ebah stated that the former President of Guinea, Alpha Conde, acknowledged the issuance of Tinubu’s passport. Despite objections from INEC, President Tinubu, and the All Progressives Congress (APC), the court admitted all the documents into evidence.
During cross-examination by Tinubu’s lawyer, Enahoro-Ebah acknowledged that Tinubu’s US forfeiture judgment was not registered in Nigeria but was properly notarized. The witness claimed ignorance of a letter from the US Consulate stating that there was no warrant of conviction against Tinubu in the USA. He also denied knowledge of a public notice from Chicago State University confirming Tinubu’s attendance and graduation with an honors degree. The court admitted the public notice as an exhibit.
In response to questions from the APC’s counsel, the witness admitted that the US forfeiture judgment did not include a certificate signed by a police officer but rather that of a licensed detective. He also noted the absence of fingerprints or photographs on the court document. The witness clarified that he was not a member of the APC but a member of the Obidient movement, and he emphasized his unwillingness to be involved in document forgery to avoid being scandalized.