|Godwin Tsa, Abuja
The Presidential Election Petition Tribunal sitting in Abuja has ordered the Chairman of the Independent National Electoral Commission, Prof. Mahmood Yakubu, and the Resident Electoral Commissioner in Zamfara, to produce some documents requested by the People’s Democratic Party and its presidential candidate, Alhaji Atiku Abubakar, at noon on Thursday.
The five-member tribunal led by Justice Mohammed Garba issued the order on Wednesday following complaints by the counsel for the petitioners, Chief Chris Uche (SAN) to the effect that officials of the commission had refused to comply with the court’s subpoena served on them and the payment made for it.
Specifically, Uche told the tribunal that the INEC officials had refused to release documents to the petitioners even after the fees for the certification for the documents had been paid to the commission.
He also alleged that the INEC officials had been instructed not to release to them electoral documents for which court subpoenas had been issued and served on them to produce in court.
“We have made concerted efforts and we stated in the letters we wrote to them that we have it on good authority that they were instructed not to release the documents,” Uche said.
After taking contributions from counsel to the respondents, Justice Garba ruled: “I have seen from the record of the court that the INEC Chairman and the Resident Electoral Commission, Zamfara State, were duly served with a subpoena issued on July 9, 2019, to produce documents named therein.
“The INEC chairman and the Resident Electoral Commissioner in Zamfara and the legal team representing them are under a binding obligation to ensure that the orders contained in the subpoena are obeyed.”
The court noted that the subpoena directed both INEC officials to produce the documents on July 15, 2019, but it might have been impossible to produce the documents that day.
Justice Garba added that it was clear that up till the Wednesday’s proceedings, the documents requested had yet to be produced.
He also held that since there was no specific directive for them to produce the documents at Wednesday’s proceedings, “they are directed to produce the documents at noon on Thursday, July 18, 2019.”
INEC is represented at the tribunal by Yunus Usman (SAN), President Muhammadu Buhari’s Chief Wole Olanipekun (SAN), and Lateef Fagbemi (SAN) are leading the legal team of the All Progressives Congress.