Godwin Tsa, Abuja
Hearing resumed on Thursday at the Presidential Election Petition Tribunal where witnesses called by the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) and its presidential candidate, Atiku Abubakar attacked the credibility of the February 23 election won by President Muhammdu Buhari of the All Progressives Congress (APC).
In his evidence in chief, John Makama, who was the PDP collation agent in Sanga Local Government Area of Kaduna State, said the results of the election were cancelled in the stronghold of his party by the officials of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC).
Another witness Nicholas Msheliza told the tribunal how the result of the presidential polls were virtually mutilated from the various local government areas of Borno State.
Msheliza, who was the Borno State collation agent for the PDP, added that there was zero accreditation of voters in over 200 polling units out of the 3,933 statutory polling units in the state.
He explained that there were a total of 5,078 voting points, including the polling units.
Standing in the witness box, Msheliza told the tribunal under cross-examination that “in over 200 polling units across Borno State, there was zero accreditation of voters.
“Virtually all the results sheets that were brought to the state collation centre were mutilated.
“There was virtually no result sheet that was tendered at the state collation centre that did not have calculation error, and I did reject most of them.
“The Returning Officer of the first respondent (INEC), would always ask the local government collation officers to go outside the collation centre to reconcile figures, add them up and when they tallied, they should go back to present them. The figures were wrong.”
Asked by counsel for INEC, Yunus Usman (SAN), to give the correct figures, he said he was not in a position to do so.
He added, referring to INEC’s collation officers, “these were university lecturers, simple arithmetic of plus and minus and they could not add well. All the results were mutilated.
“The correct results were collated by our party agents and given to our counsel.”
Under cross-examination by the APC’s lawyer, Adeniyi Akintola (SAN), the witnesses maintained that “the results were already collated” before he got to the state collation centre.
But Akintola referred him to a part of his witness statement on oath where he stated that he “observed in the course of transmitting the results from local government result sheets to the state result sheets wrong figures were being entered by INEC officials.”
When asked to reconcile the seeming contradiction between his claim that the results were already collated before he got to the collation centre, and his deposition that he observed when the figures were being tendered, the witness said, “they were merely announcing the results to the hearing of people present.”
Asked if he visited the polling units in the state as the state collation officer for the PDP, he said: “I could not have visited the polling units because of the peculiar security challenges in Borno State.”
Earlier, Makama, a lawyer by profession said the election in Saga Local Government Area of Kaduna State was riddled with irregularities and illegal cancellation of votes.
Under cross-examination by the respondents’ counsel, Makama said the results were cancelled in his presence at the local government collation centre by the INEC’s local government collation officer and not at the polling units where the election took place.
He said: “It is an aberration that results from wards and polling units were cancelled.
“The election held at the polling units, but the cancellations happened at the local government collation centre.
“The results from the petitioners’ stronghold were illegally cancelled.
“It is an open fact that political parties have strongholds where they are dominant.”
He said of the 11 wards in Sanga Local Government Area, the APC was only strong in three.
When cross-examined by Buhari’s counsel, Yusuf Ali (SAN), Makama could not find an answer when told that cancellation of results in Sanga Local Government Area was not part of the case presented by the petitioners in their petition.
In his own evidence, 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.
The witness 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 could not authenticate the election malpractices.
He further said that he made complains to INEC Returning Officer but nothing was done to correct the anomaly especially the reduction of votes of the petitioners.
Dr Abdulraman Usman in his own testimony alleged that 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.
Also testifying, Adams Ali Sanni also admitted that he did not sign results sheets as agents of the petitioners because results were altered in his presence while votes cast for Atiku and PDP were reduced also in his presence.
He alleged that apart from unlawful cancellation of results, PDP agents were chased away by thugs of the APC to allow free falsification of results in favour of Buhari.
Another witness from Bauchi State, Yau Yusuf, in attesting to claim of rigging, harassment and intimidation of voters, said election results was torn by a particular agent of the APC in the presence of INEC officials at INEC headquarters and yet nothing was done.
He claimed 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.
At the end of cross examination of the 28 witness called by the petitioners on Thursday, presiding justice of the five member panel, Justice Mohammed Garba, adjourned hearing today for further hearing.