Peter Obi, INEC Chairman

Obi Accuses INEC Chairman of Evading Witness Summon

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In a recent development, Mr. Peter Obi, the candidate of the Labour Party (LP), has made an allegation against Prof. Mahmoud Yakubu, the chairman of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC). Obi claims that Yakubu is evading a witness summon served on him. This revelation adds to the ongoing controversy surrounding the allegedly rigged 2023 presidential election. Obi’s legal team, led by Dr. Livy Uzoukwu, SAN, obtained a subpoena to compel the INEC chairman to testify before the Presidential Election Petition Court (PEPC) in Abuja. They also demand that Yakubu produce and present crucial materials used in the election as evidence.

During the recent court proceedings to challenge the declaration of President Bola Tinubu of the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) as the winner of the presidential contest held on February 25, Obi and his party expressed their frustration. They informed the court that all attempts to serve the subpoena on the INEC chairman had failed. Dr. Uzoukwu, SAN, stated that he had informed Mr. Abubakar Mahmood, SAN, the counsel for INEC, about the commission’s refusal to accept the subpoena and produce the requested documents. However, due to the unavailability of an extra copy, he intends to provide one to Mahmood after the proceedings.

In response to Obi’s accusations, INEC’s lawyer, Mr. Kemi Pinhero, SAN, retaliated by accusing Obi of constantly seeking someone to blame for his failure. Pinhero informed the court that he was not aware of any discussions between Obi’s lead counsel and INEC’s legal team. He highlighted that the subpoenas had been successfully served on both the INEC chairman and some National Commissioners in a similar case involving the People’s Democratic Party (PDP). Pinhero also clarified that INEC had provided certified documents dating back to March, contrary to the petitioners’ claims of non-compliance. He emphasized that the allegations against the INEC chairman were unfounded and uncharitable.

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During the proceedings, Justice Haruna Tsammani, leading a five-member panel, advised restraint from both parties and encouraged amicable resolution of the issue. The court adjourned further hearings on the matter until today, following no objections from President Tinubu’s counsel, Wole Olanipekun, SAN, and the APC’s counsel, Mr. Afolabi Fashanu, SAN.

In earlier proceedings, the petitioners presented printouts of the presidential election results from seven states, which they had downloaded from INEC’s IReV portal. These printouts, duly certified by INEC, contained data from multiple local government areas (LGAs) in each state. The petitioners also submitted bundles of printouts from unlinked or cancelled LGAs. Although the respondents objected to the admissibility of these documents, the Justice Tsammani-led panel admitted them as exhibits. Additionally, the court accepted certificates of compliance for the certified exhibits from 28 states, including the Federal Capital Territory (FCT), Abuja.

Peter Obi, who secured the third position in the presidential election, has expressed his intention to call 50 witnesses during the allocated three weeks of court proceedings.

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