*Out of 400 witnesses only 58 called yet
Ahead of Friday’s sitting, the Independent National Electoral Commission has produced the documents which the presidential election petitions tribunal, in Abuja called for on Wednesday at the instance of the Peoples Democratic Party and its presidential candidate, Atiku Abubakar.
The documents which were packed in 55 cartons would be the last to be presented to the tribunal as the petitioners are expected to close their case on Friday.
However, only 58 out of its proposed 400 witnesses had been called as of Wednesday which happened to be the ninth of the ten days given to the petitioners by the tribunal to present their case.
The petitioners are, by their petition, challenging the victory of President Muhammadu Buhari and his All Progressives Congress at the February 23 poll.
The tribunal of five judges led by Justice Mohammed Garba had on Wednesday ordered INEC to produce the documents by noon on Thursday.
This followed the complaints by the petitioners that the subpoenas issued and served on INEC Chairman, Mahmood Yakubu, and the commission’s resident electoral commissioner in Zamfara State to produce the documents had not been complied with.
The tribunal had on Wednesday adjourned the case until Friday, but the counsel to the PDP and Atiku, Chris Uche (SAN), attended the Thursday’s proceedings scheduled for hearing in respect of other petitions filed by the Hope Democratic Party and the Peoples Democratic Movement.
Uche said his presence in court was to ensure INEC’s compliance with the Wednesday’s order of the tribunal.
At about the time the five-man panel was to recede to chambers to write a ruling in respect of PDM’s petition, Uche informed the bench of his intention in court on Thursday.
In reaction, Justice Garba asked for update from INEC’s lawyer, Yunus Usman (SAN).
Replying, Usman informed the tribunal that the “documents had been substantially produced.
“It is a very tedious task, but we have to obey the court’s order,” he stated.
Within the period of the one-hour break observed by the members of the tribunal, INEC officials had brought in a total of 55 boxes of documents into the court room.
When the tribunal resumed sitting, INEC’s lawyer informed the panel that the order of the court had been complied with.
Pointing to the cartons of documents lined up in the courtroom, Usman said since the order of court was not for INEC officials on whom the subpoenas were earlier served to testify, the Director of Legal Services, Mrs Oluwatoyin Babalola, was present to represent the commission.
He also said there was a cover letter signed by the secretary to INEC, Mrs. Rose Orianran-Anthony, accompanying the documents.
He noted that the request by the petitioners for result sheets for the national assembly rerun election in Zamfara State were not available as no such election was conducted.