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Published On: Tue, Jul 30th, 2019

Presidential election tribunal: INEC refuses to call witness

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By Vivian Okejeme

The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) yesterday, refused to call any witness in their defence on the petition filed by Alhaji Atiku Abubakar and the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP).
Atiku and PDP, on July 19 closed their case after calling 62 witnesses challenging the emergence of President Muhammadu Buhari and his All Progressives Congress reelection.
Consequent to that, the tribunal adjourned to yesterday for the electoral umpire to open its defense.
However, at the resumption of proceeding yesterday, counsel to the electoral body, Yunus Usman (SAN), told the tribunal that there is no need calling up any witness.
INEC maintained that the evidence extracted from Atiku’s witnesses during cross-examination was in support of the commission’s case.
“We have painstakingly reviewed the evidence of petitioners’ witnesses. We have also painstakingly studied the petitioners’ evidence under cross-examination, which supports our defence and our denial in consonance with our pleadings.
“My lords, we do not see the need to waste your lordship’s precious time by repeating what their witnesses have repeated under cross-examination.
“In that circumstance, we will not call any witness to help them prove their case. We, therefore, rely on the evidence of their witness under cross-examination.”
In his reaction, counsel to Buhari, Chief Wole Olanipekun (SAN), requested to be allowed to open his client’s case at 2:00 p.m. today.
The team led by Lateef Fagbemi (SAN), in its reaction said the case to be presented by Buhari’s legal team, will also determine if they will call any witness as well.
Responding, Atiku’s counsel, Dr. Livy Uzoukwu (SAN), thanked INEC’s legal team for not calling witnesses.
He said, “I profusely thank my brother and friend for deciding not to call any witness.’’
In its ruling, the five-man panel of the tribunal led by Justice Mohammed Garba, granted Buhari’s lawyer’s request to call witness today (Tuesday).

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