…Atiku calls additional 9 witnesses
Proceedings for Tuesday July 9, 2019
The tribunal began sitting by 9.35am.
PDP National Organising Secretary, Austin Akubundu stood for Atiku and PDP, while Adams Aliu Oshiomhole represented Buhari and APC.
The Tribunal Chairman ordered the registrar to call the case. Dr Levy Ozoukwu SAN led the legal team of the petitioners, Mr Yunus Ustaz Yusman SAN, represented the Independent Electoral Commission, Chief Wole Olanipekun SAN, led the team for Buhari and Lateef Fagbemi SAN, led that of the All Progressives Congress.
Atiku Abubakar, Presidential Candidate of PDP and his party on Tuesday called 9 witnesses who testified in his petition praying the presidential election petition tribunal to void the election of February 23 on grounds of non-compliance with electoral laws, violence, thuggery, non accreditation of voters and non qualification of Buhari to contest the election.
The nine (9) witnesses were led in their evidence in chief by Atiku’s lawyer. The witnesses are Tanko Birchi from Niger State, Salisu Yusuf Maijigiri, PDP State Chairman, Katsina State, Salisu Garba Funtua, Abdusalam Idris, Aliu Umar Ustas, Ibrahim Musa, Audu Sanni, Balarabe Usman and Umar Alhaji.
In their evidence, the witnesses disputed the return of Muhhamadu Buhari by INEC as winner of the presidential election.
They maintained that in the three states of Katsina, Kebbi and Niger where they voted and monitored the election, the presidential poll was characterized by rigging, allocation of votes to parties, use of thuggery to cause mayhem, non accreditation of voters, over-voting, cancellation and alteration of election results as well as the use of police to intimidate, harass and coerce to do their biddings on the election day.
The nine witnesses told the tribunal led by Justice Mohammed Garba that political thugs were used by the APC to chase away PDP agents thereby making some of the agents not to sign some result sheets.
Salisu Yusuf Maijigiri, who is the chairman of Katsina Sate PDP told the tribunal that 1, 555, 633 votes credited to Buhari was not the true reflection of what transpired on the election day, maintaining that the figure was just allocated.
He alleged that agents of PDP in the 34 local government areas of the state were chased away while INEC ad-hoc staff were substituted with untrained ones used to produce fake results in the state. Maijigiri insisted that PDP won in Katsina State with 905,000 votes while APC came second with 872,000 votes from the result collated by his party.
Another witness Salisu Garba Funtua alleged over voting because card readers were abandoned. He further claimed that election was cancelled in several places due to the failure of card readers.
Under cross examination by Olanipekun, the witness maintained that the election was not free or fair because of over voting and other malpractices.
Another witness, Abdulsalam Idris in his own testimony told the tribunal that Atiku and PDP never conceded defeat to Buhari and APC because the February 23 election cannot be called election in the full meaning of democracy.
Another witness, Aliu Umar Ustas, who was a local government collation officer for Atiku alleged that police connived with APC members to cheat the PDP. Under cross examination by counsel to APC, Lateef Fagbemi SAN, the witness emphasized that his party collated detailed result and that the result are being kept with the party.
In his own evidence, Tanko Birchi, a lawyer and businessman admitted that he was not physically present in all polling units but received complains in writing and verbal on the irregularities that characterized the election and that the complaints have been delivered to the party national secretariat.
Responding to a question from the APC lawyer, the witness said that he heard that Buhari was a General in the Nigerian Army and that he was in primary school between 1983 and 1985 when Buhari was a military Head of State.
Ogunsanya Abiola, Uchenna Umeh, Abubakar Mohammed Wali and Bako Umar Kakanga who testified in the afternoon session corroborated evidence of the earlier witnesses on the alleged malpractices they witnessed during the election.
Abubakar Wali under cross examination by INEC lawyer Mr. Yunus Ustaz Usman SAN told the tribunal that he dismissed the election because it was marred with a lot of irregularities.
The witness who acted as agent of the two petitioners in Bauchi State informed the tribunal that those who carried out the alleged electoral malpractices were not put on trial by police because they acted as agents of the All Progressive Congress (APC).
In all, the petitioners called a total of 13 witnesses to substantiate their allegations against the February 23 election in which Muhammadu Buhari was declared as winner.