BY AMOS DUNIA, ABUJA – At the resume hearing at the Presidential Election Petition Tribunal on Thursday, seven witnesses of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) presidential candidate, Atiku Abubakar faulted the victory of President Muhammadu Buhari in the February 23, 2019 presidential election.
The witnesses insisted that the election was poorly conducted in the Northern part of the country with massive cancellation and mutilation of election results in favour of the All Progressives Congress.
The witnesses testified that in Kaduna and Borno States, wrong scores were fraudulently credited by INEC officials to Buhari and APC which made some of them to refuse in signing the result sheets at the Polling Units, Wards, Local and State Government levels.
The witnesses further told the Tribunal that in spite of restriction order on the election’s day, people were transported from one place to another unchallenged to vote for the APC, adding that their protests and complaints lodged with security agents were ignored, making them to realise that the security agents have been compromised.
The witnesses include Major Yahaya Sikko, Jafari Abas Ibrahim, Dr AbdulRaman Usman, Nicholas Msheila, John Makama, Khalid Yelwa Kugo and Adam Ali Sanni.
In his evidence in Chief on the alleged election malpractices in Kaduna State, Sikko told the tribunal that wrong figures were credited to Buhari and APC making him to refuse to sign the result sheet as required by law, adding that in his presence, results were doctored by APC agents with the full backing of security personnel.
Answering a question from Buhari’s counsel, Wole Olanipekun SAN, Sikko said that he protested against the wrong doings at the collation centre but was ignored.
Also testifying, Jafaru Abas Ibrahim, a senior lawyer, informed the Tribunal that strange people were transported to certain areas where they cast votes for APC in spite of the presence of security personnel just as he said that results were not correctly transmitted to form EC8C.
Answering a question from Buhari’s counsel, Ibrahim admitted that he signed the result sheets but that his signature cannot authenticate the election malpractices, saying that he made complaints to INEC Returning Officer but nothing was done to correct the anomaly especially the reduction of votes of the petitioners.
In his own testimony, Dr AbdulRaman Usman said Form EC8A were not made available to agents of the petitioners as required by law and thereby making him not to sign form EC8C being the result for Kaduna North Local Government because of his objection to the wrongful entries made for the APC.
Similarly, Nicholas Msheila, the Borno State collation Officer for the petitioners informed the Tribunal that he rejected most results in the 27 Local Government Areas in the state because they were fraudulent, adding that INEC connived with APC to fraudulently increase the number of polling units in the state from statutory 3,933 to 5,078.
Also testifying, Adams Ali Sanni also admitted that he did not sign results sheets as agents of the PDP candidate because the results were altered in his presence while votes cast for Atiku and PDP were reduced also in his presence.
Sanni stressed that apart from unlawful cancellation of results, PDP agents were chased away by thugs of the APC to allow for free falsification of results in favour of Buhari.
Yau Yusuf and Buka Buka Petrus also testified for the petitioners with complaints that the election was characterized by wide range of violence culminating in the tearing of results sheet by an agent of the APC in Bauchi.
In his own testimony attesting to claim of rigging, harassment and intimidation of voters, Yau Yusuf, said election results was torn by a particular agent of the APC in the presence of INEC officials at INEC headquarters in Daas Local Government Area and yet nothing was done.
He also said that the results announced by INEC was a reproduced copy, adding that the police took the torn copy with a promise to prosecute the perpetrator.
Yusuf said that the perpetrator is still walking the streets of Daas as a free man.
After the end of cross examination of the 28th petitioners’ witness, Justice Garba adjourned further hearing till tomorrow, July 12, 2019.
Mr. Peter Obi represented Atiku Abubakar and PDP, while Adams Oshiomhole represented Buhari and the APC while Adebayo Adelodun SAN, conducted trial of Atiku’s petition just as Yunus Usman SAN stood for INEC with Wole Olanipekun SAN for President Muhammadu Buhari and Charles Edosamwam SAN led the APC legal team.