Nasarawa governorship: Petitioners have not discharged burden placed on them – APC declares as party closes case, Tribunal fixes September 14 for adoption of written addresses
By our correspondent
The All Progressives Congress (APC) in Nasarawa State, has declared that the petitioners in the case instituted to challenge the victory of Governor Abdullahi Sule, have not discharged the burden placed on them at the ongoing proceedings of the Governorship Election Petition Tribunal sitting in Lafia.
Mathew Burkah, SAN, lead counsel to the APC, while closing his case before the tribunal, Wednesday, said the petitioners failed to call polling unit agents before the tribunal since they must have witnessed the complaints, and who are the only persons that can give vivid accounts of what transpired at the polling units of Gayam, Chiroma and Ashige wards, all in Lafia Local Government Area.
Earlier, Burkah, informed the tribunal that the third respondent, has caused subpoenas to be issued on one Gyang Davou Dung, said to have certified some documents before the tribunal, particularly RW107 and RW108 issued to the petitioners, purported to be IREV results, as well as the Head of Operations at the Lafia office of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC).
The APC lead counsel disclosed that while the INEC Head of Operations for Lafia was available and was being represented by a senior administrative officer from the Lafia office of INEC, Gyang Davou Dung, who was subpoenaed from the national headquarters of INEC in Abuja, failed to turn up at the tribunal.
He added that they have filed two processes which are the third respondent’s schedule of witnesses and schedule of documents dated 30th August, 2023.
Burkah, SAN explained that the subpoena was taken to INEC Headquarters where Dung is said to be working on the 29th of August, 2023 and that only the secretary of the commission was on seat, who refused to collect the subpoena.
He said the INEC head of operations in Lafia was subpoenaed to present before the tribunal Form EC8As for 62 polling units, 40 EC8Bs, 13 EC8Cs, one EC8D and one EC8E, all in relation to the March 18th governorship election in Nasarawa State.
Muhammad Yahaya Bello, Senior Administrative Officer, who represented the Head of Operations, INEC Lafia office told the tribunal that they were subpoenaed to present Form EC8As for the March 18th governorship election in Nasarawa State for 62 polling units, Form EC8Bs and Form EC8Cs for the 13 local government areas, as well as Form EC8D and form EC8E.
Bello told the tribunal that they do not have Form EC8A for some polling units in Keana, which are GSS Aloshi, Keana Primary School Polling Unit, Angugi Agyala Polling Unit in NasarawaEggon, Yalwa Polling Unit. Others are Shegye I Polling Unit in Toto LGA.
The INEC staff said that they do not have Form EC8B for Akwanga.
Burkah, SAN, thereafter sought to tender the documents as evidence before the tribunal following which counsel to the petitioners, Jibrin Samuel Okutekpa, objected to the admissibility of the said document but at the same time reserving his reasons for the written address. Both Isiaka Muddie Dikko and Dr. Mubarak Adekilekun, counsels for first and second respondents respectively did not object to the tendering of the INEC documents as evidence.
He equally sought to tender a copy of the subpoena served on the Head of Operations, INEC Lafia office, original copy of ID card, as well as receipts of payments for the said documents, and application that was not objected by Counsel to INEC Ishaka Muddie Dikko SAN and Dr Mubarak Adekilekun for Governor Abdullahi Sule but the petitioners counsel, Jibrin Samuel Okutepa SAN objected to the admissibility of the documents.
The petitioners lead counsel also confirmed that they were served with the third respondent’s schedule of documents and witnesses but said they were not aware of subpoena issued on one Gyang Davou Dung, staff of INEC , insisting that a copy of the subpoena should be given to them to enable them respond appropriately.
While closing his case, Burkah, SAN said the APC won’t present additional witnesses before the tribunal as the third respondent will rely on the witnesses earlier presented by the second respondent.
Chairman of the tribunal, Justice Ezekiel Ajayi thereafter stood down proceedings for some time, to allow the counsels identify and arrange the tendered documents for ease of reference, following which he finally granted the application and marked the documents as exhibits.
Ruling on the application, Justice Ajayi granted the application and adjourned hearing till September 14th for all the counsel to adopt their final written addresses.