The sham of an election held on February 25th in Nigeria has revealed a disturbing pattern of voters’ disenfranchisement, intimidation, and bullying, undermining the promise of a free and fair election made by INEC chairman, Prof Yakubu Mahmood. The proceedings of the ongoing Petition Tribunal (PEPT) shed light on the egregious irregularities that occurred, leading to the wrongful exclusion of Peter Obi from the electoral process. With the lead petitioner presenting overwhelming evidence, including videos played on two HD TVs, the proceedings exposed the flaws that tainted the electoral process.
The proceedings of the PEPT, which commenced at approximately 9:40 am, showcased the determined efforts of the lead petitioner (LP), who brought forth a massive collection of evidence to substantiate their claims of electoral malpractice. Representing the petitioners was HE Peter Obi, whose legal team, led by Dr. Livy Uzoukwu SAN, spearheaded the proceedings. Onyechi Ikpeazu SAN and PIN Ikwueto SAN led LP’s case, with Professor Eric U. Ofoedu serving as the first witness of the day, and the fourth overall.
However, the respondents attempted to impede the proceedings by objecting to the late submission of the witness’s statement. Despite their objections, the court determined that the witness would be examined in chief, postponing the cross-examination to the following day. The examination in chief proceeded, but objections were raised regarding the adoption of the witness’s statement.
During the examination, LP sought to make corrections to the witness’s statement under oath. The respondents objected, insisting that the corrections should be withdrawn, amended, and re-tendered. Nevertheless, the court admitted the corrections, allowing the evidence to be considered. Three reports presented by the witness were also objected to by the respondents but were ultimately admitted by the court.
One of the glaring irregularities presented in the proceedings was the submission of 18,088 blurred polling unit results. These results, vehemently opposed by the respondents, were admitted by the court. Additionally, a letter of engagement and a subpoena from the second petitioner to the witness were tendered, triggering objections from the first, second, and third respondents. Surprisingly, the fourth respondent objected only to the subpoena, but not the letter. The court, however, admitted both the letter and subpoena, tagging them with exhibit numbers and scheduling cross-examination for the following day.
A second witness, Lumie Idevbie, a staff member of Arise TV, was called upon without objections to his subpoena, and the court admitted it. The witness’s ID card was presented, with no objections from the respondents, leading to its admission and tagging by the court. However, objections were raised against the witness’s written statement on oath, which was admitted by the court despite the objections.
The presentation of a flash drive containing video evidence faced objections from the respondents. Nonetheless, the court admitted the flash drive, allowing the video to be played. The 10-minute video showcased INEC Chair, Prof Yakubu Mahmood, delivering a speech at Chatham House about elections and BVAS. Surprisingly, the respondents did not object to the video being played.
The proceedings concluded at approximately 12:49 pm, adjourning until the next day. The ongoing tribunal has exposed the deep-seated flaws in the Nigerian electoral system, revealing a gross failure on the part of INEC to ensure a free and fair election. The evidence presented highlights the disenfranchisement of voters, the prevalence of intimidation and bullying, and the significant discrepancies between