…Tribunal adjourns abruptly till Monday
Andrew Orolua, Abuja
Some Atiku and Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) witnesses were on Friday attacked by unknown gunmen on their way to the Presidential election petition tribunal sitting in Abuja.
The incident led to an abrupt adjournment of the tribunal sitting till Monday by the presiding Justice Mohammed Garba who noted at 1 pm when the tribunal was informed about the development that the tribunal ought to have taken its normal one hour break and resumed by 2 pm.
Petitioners lead counsel, Dr. Livy Uzoukwu (SAN), who announced this before the tribunal, said that the petitioner will not be able to call the next witness on Friday following the attack on the witnesses on their way from Zamfara State.
He said that unknown armed men attacked the witnesses and injured some of them while others ran into the bush, adding that some people were trying to rescue them from the bush.
Meanwhile, in his testimony on Friday, Olufemi Ogunde, an assistant presiding officer in Abuja, said that they were given INEC regulation and guidelines where the duties of Assistant Presiding officer were spelt out.
The witness said that on the day of the election, an INEC official further trained them on how to use smart card reader to transmit the election result, adding that he instructed them to transmit the result with a code provided by INEC official to INEC sever.
“I transmitted the results as recorded in Form EC8A. I have no interest on which of the party won the election so I have no interest in noting the score of each party,” he stated.
Earlier, one of the witnesses and ad hoc staff of INEC, Olufemi Ogunrinde, told the tribunal that he personally transmitted election results into the server of the electoral body, along with other assistant presiding officers.
The witness admitted that, two hours to the election, INEC officials brought in a consultant who trained them on how to transmit election results into INEC sever with the short code he provided and smart card reader.
Answering a question from counsel to INEC, Yunus Usman (SAN), the witness also admitted that he was given guidelines and regulation for the conduct of the election by INEC during their training.
Another witness, Peter Sabo from Yobe State, alleged that the APC used the security challenges in the state to perpetrate electoral fraud.
He alleged that designated centres were used after mobilising voters, contrary to the regulation that voting must be done at the polling units.
Sabo further told the tribunal that he refused to sign result sheets when he discovered that the number of ballot papers issued out by INEC was exactly the number of votes recorded for APC, without a void one, adding that information latter came on how APC agents freely distributed ballot papers for voters after PDP agents had been chased away.
The witness told the tribunal that he wrote a petition to the DSS, Police and Civil Defence for the arrest of the identified APC agents that carried out election malpractices, but that nothing was done till date.
Another witness, Hassam Maisarafa, also from Yobe State, testified and in his testimony stated that civil servants in the state were harassed, intimidated and threatened to choose between voting for APC or lose their jobs.
The witness, who named some government officials who carried out the threat, further informed the chairman that farmers were harassed to chose between voting for APC or forego their farm lands.
Cross examined by counsel to President Buhari, Yusuf Ali (SAN), the witness could not tell the tribunal the number of farmers threatened by government officials but further alleged that vote buying was order of the day during the election.
Other witnesses who testified on Friday for the petitioners were Husseini Haruna, Zakari Ibrahim, Silas Paris, Usman Adamu and Modu Ahmed.
Meanwhile, further hearing in the petition to resumes on Monday.