From Uche Nnorom, Makurdi
Former deputy governor of Benue State Chief Steven Lawani yesterday closed his case at the National Assembly Election Petition Tribunal sitting in Makurdi.
Lawani who is contesting the election of Comrade Abba Moro as Senator for Benue South Senatorial District called 11 witnesses to prove that the election was marred by irregularities.
Appearing in the dock as a witness in his own case, Lawani under cross examination disagreed sharply with counsel to Moro, Ken Ikonne that the result of the election which saw him garner 47,972 as against 85,162 his rival got, is not a true reflection of the election.
“”If I had agreed with the figure, I would not have been here. The election was marred by a lot of malpractices as there was no accreditation of voters. That is why I subpoened the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC to ascertain the creditability of the election”, Lawani said.
Earlier, a witness Innocent Unogwu from Ogbadibo local government home country of Lawani, had told the court under cross examination by counsels to Moro, PDP and INEC that he did not vote during the election even though he has a voters card.
He further said that no agent of the APC signed the result sheet because the election was manipulated by PDP and INEC.
Innocent however, agreed that election was held in the local government area and supervised by INEC who also, collated and declared results in each polling g unit in the area.
An INEC subpoened witness Mr. Achigili Samuel who was led in evidence by Lawani counsel S. O. Okpale to identify voter register but this was disapproved vehemently by chairman of the tribunal Justice A. A. Adeleye who overruled him citing paragraph 41 of the Electoral Act which does not allow a subpoened witness to identify document before the court. However, Okpale stubbornly insisted that it should be recorded that he wanted the witness to identify document but was refused by the tribunal.
Under cross examination by Ikonne, the INEC staff said he was not a field Officer but in the training department and as such, did not have any business with voters register.
The respondent, Abba Moro is expected to open his defence on 22nd July, 2019.