…As Yakubu , Zamfara state REC failed to produce election documents
Andrew Orolua, Abuja
The Presidential Election Petition Tribunal has directed the Chairman of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) Prof. Mahmoud Yakubu and the Zamfara State’s Resident Electoral Commissioner (REC) to produce before the tribunal certain documents relating to February 23, 2019 Presidential election by 12 noon tomorrow.
Chairman of the tribunal Justice Mohammed Garba gave the order on Wednesday at the resumed hearing of the petition filed by Atiku Abubakar and Peoples Democratic Party (PDP).
The order came after petitioner’s lead lawyer Chief Chris Uche (SAN), complained that the Subpoena served on Mahmoud Yakubu and the Zamfara state Resident Electoral Commissioner to produce documents on 15 July and 12 July 2019 have not being complied with.
In his ruling Justice Garba said that from the court record the Chairman of the Independent National Electoral Commission and the Zamfara state Resident Electoral Commissioner were served with the court Subpoena on 15 July and 12 July 2019 respectively.
The Chairman of INEC and Zamfara state REC as well as the first respondent legal team are bound to obey the court order.
“We noted that the subpoena has ordered the Chairman of INEC to produce the defendants on 15 July the same date it was served on him , that was impossible. Zamfara state REC has also not produce the documents .
In his complaints, Uche (SAN ) the lead counsel for the petitioners had requested the tribunal to assist to ensure that INEC obey its subpoena served on them. He noted that they have refused to release the documents.
“They have not being produced and we have not seen them in court.”
But the lead counsel for INEC ,Yunus Ustaz Usman (SAN), said “the legal team are with the Chairman of INEC till 11 pm last night and that he want to travel today but he did not tell us that he was served with Subpoena to produce any document. He never told us that he was served with any Subpoena”.
Justice Garba interjected thus: the court effected the service on the Chairman on 15 July 2019. That was the day he was served to appear before the court with the documents. He was required to appear on that date.
The Subpoena was served on Zamfara state REC on 12 July.
Usman SAN: I am aware of that one and I instructed her to certify the documents and bring them but she text that the applicant have not paid for them.
Justice Garba : Are there here now?
Usman: I sent a text and she stated that it has been certified but their lawyer have not pay to collect it.
Uche SAN: A Subpoena from court is an order and a summon from the court not the petitioners.
Since the court record has shown that INEC chairman and Zamfara state REC was served ,the order of the court must be obeyed There should make the documents available to us today to tender them before the tribunal .
Chief Wole Olanipekun (SAN), While I conceded that Subpoena must be obeyed, I am not defending INEC but I am worried that tomorrow the headline would be that the Commission has frustrated the tribunal hearing.
No one party should be set up as frustrating the hearing .
On his part, the All Progressives Congress (APC) lawyer , Chief Lateef Fagbemi (SAN) told the the tribunal that it is nor enough to issue Subpoena the applicant ought to seek audience with the respondents lawyers.
Uche SAN: There were so many efforts made by the petitioners including letter to INEC chairman dated 15 April, 9 April and 12/March 2019 on same subject matter but he refused to release the documents.
In addition to those letter we also wrote INEC lawyer, Usman (SAN) about our difficulties. “Let that day never come that a senior counsel will prevailed that order of the court should not be obeyed,” he told the tribunal.
But Usman(SAN) said that based on letter to him he had supervised the certification of over 40,000 INEC documents that were made available to the petitioner. He promise to return to INEC today during break to sort thing out.