The Independent National Electoral Commission on Friday explained why it rejected documents tendered by the Labour Party and its candidate, Peter Obi, to aid his petition against the election of President Bola Tinubu.
The electoral body had since the start of the hearing opposed the admissibility of various documents brought to the Presidential Election Petition Court by the petitioners as exhibits to prove their case and held, like other respondents, that reasons would be advanced during the address stage of the proceedings.
However, during Friday’s proceedings, counsel for INEC, Kemi Pinhero SAN, told the court that the electoral body objected to tendering the election result sheets because the petitioners went beyond the areas where the election was being disputed.
He said the local government areas improperly brought into the proceedings of the court were strange to the petition and cannot stand in the face of the law.
Interjecting, the chairman of the five-man panel, Justice Harunna Tsammani, held that it was unacceptable for the lawyer to give reasons for their objection after the commission had indicated that it would advance reasons at the address stage of proceedings.
Subsequently, Peter Afoba, SAN, who represented Obi and the LP tendered before the PEPC additional exhibits to back up their petition against Tinubu which were admitted and marked as Exhibits PB 16 to PB 21.
The exhibits, which were admitted in evidence by the Tsammani-led panel, consisted of certified true copies of results of the presidential election from Adamawa, Bayelsa, Oyo, Edo, Lagos and Akwa Ibom states.
Although Obi won the presidential election in Lagos state, he, however, alleged in his petition that there was massive suppression of votes in the state.
The petitioners also tendered evidence before the court, the result from Bida in Niger State, which was admitted as Exhibit PE 24.
Earlier on Thursday, he tendered results of the election from select local government areas in Rivers, Niger, Benue, Cross River, Osun, and Ekiti.
Like INEC, other respondents objected to the admissibility of the document and said they would equally reserve their reasons for objecting until the final address stage of the petition.
The court thereafter admitted results from 21 LGAs in Adamawa and marked them as Exhibits PH 1 to PH 21; it also admitted results of the presidential election from eight LGAs in Bayelsa and marked them as Exhibits PJ1 to PJ 8.
Results from 31 LGAs in Oyo which the court admitted as exhibits were marked PK 1 – PK 31, while results from 18 LGAs in Edo were marked as Exhibits PL1- PL 18.
Further tendered were results from 20 LGAs in Lagos state which were admitted as Exhibits PM 1 – PM 20, with results from 31 LGAs in Akwa Ibom accepted in evidence as Exhibits PN 1 – PN 31.
Meanwhile, the Lamidi Apapa faction of the Labour Party on Friday told the presidential candidate of the party, Peter Obi, to withdraw his case from the tribunal for lack of seriousness.
According to the faction, the advice became necessary following the incident which happened at the tribunal on Thursday where the court stepped down hearing the petition filed by Obi and the LP against the election of President Bola Tinubu.
Speaking on fuel subsidy removal, the LP faction knocked the Nigeria Labour Congress and Trade Union Congress of Nigeria for rejecting the new pump price of petrol.
It insisted that the position of the LP on the removal of fuel subsidy during its campaign had not changed, adding that it “cannot reverse that position because it was not our candidate that won the presidential election.”
The factional National Publicity Secretary of the LP, Abayomi Arabambi,
said, “We have followed with keen interest the shameful developments and approach by the so-called legal team assembled by Peter Obi challenging the outcome of the February 25 presidential election by the Independent National Electoral Commission and we have, like many Nigerians, come to the conclusion that Obi is not only taking Nigerians for a ride but will continue to waste the hard-earned resources donated by Nigerians for this purpose to even enrich himself the more.
“That’s why we have consistently maintained that Obi is not serious. He came into the party with nothing. He didn’t fund the election, he didn’t fund the party, and he didn’t do anything for the party. He only came to mess up the entire process and to deceive Nigerians that he has something to offer to them.
“The Labour Party is thereby calling on him to step down his selfish ambition and stop messing up the party if he has nothing serious to present to the tribunal.”