THE Presidential Election Petition Court (PEPC) accepted five exhibits as evidence on the opening day of the hearing of the petition filed by the Labour Party (LP) and its presidential candidate, Peter Obi, to challenge the election of President Bola Tinubu.
Led by Jubril Okutekpa, a Senior Advocate of Nigeria (SAN), the LP presented the exhibits, marked as Exhibits PA (1 to 5), which included a copy of a United States court judgment alleging Tinubu’s conviction with a fine of $460,000 for drug trafficking.
These exhibits, along with the deposition of the first witness, Lawrence Uchechukwu Nwakaeti, were admitted by the tribunal led by Haruna Tsammani, on Tuesday, May 30.
Tinubu and the All Progressives Congress (APC) voiced objections against admitting the judgment into evidence.
During cross-examination by Wole Olanipekun, (SAN), representing Tinubu, Nwakaeti acknowledged that the judgment was not registered in Nigeria.
Olanipekun questioned the witness about the absence of any mention of a fine in the US court judgment, to which Nwakaeti agreed.
“Will you be surprised that not a single line or word relating to fine was in the US court judgment?” Olanipekun asked.
However, Nwakaeti asserted that he had read the judgment in its entirety during his visit to the United States and would be surprised if the $460,000 forfeiture was not mentioned.
Under cross-examination by Lateef Fagbemi (SAN), counsel for the APC, Nwakaeti stated that the American court judgment lacked a certificate from any American police officer.
He also denied awareness of a formal clearance report from the American Embassy concerning the alleged indictment and forfeiture on February 4, 2003.
When asked by Fagbemi to provide a copy of the charges against Tinubu, Nwakaeti admitted not having one but maintained that the indictment and forfeiture arose from civil proceedings.
In a separate petition filed by the People’s Democratic Party’s (PDP) presidential candidate, Atiku Abubakar, the tribunal admitted the printout of results from the Bimodal Voter Accreditation System (BVAS) of all 36 states as evidence.
Tsammani accepted the evidence in line with the First Schedule of the Electoral Act 2022.
The court marked the evidence as PG (1-36) and PH (1-36), representing the printouts of BVAS results and Permanent Voter Cards (PVCs) from the 36 states and the Federal Capital Territory.
During the opening of Atiku’s petition, his counsel, Eyitayo Jegede (SAN), informed the court that the documents were filed at the beginning of the petitions and duly served to all parties, adhering to the legal requirements.
However, counsel for the second and third respondents – Tinubu and APC – objected to the admissibility of the evidence, arguing that the documents were not submitted in accordance with the law.
INEC had declared Tinubu as the winner of the February 25 presidential election.
According to INEC, Tinubu secured 8,794,726 votes, Abubakar had 6,984,520, while Obi polled 6,101,533.
They alleged that Tinubu was not qualified to contest the election and that he failed to secure the majority of lawful votes cast at the poll.
They are also contesting that Tinubu’s running mate, Kashim Shettima, had a double nomination contrary to the Electoral Act.
Despite the objection, the court admitted the evidence as per its pre-hearing orders, which stipulated that parties would not contest the certified true copies provided by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC).
The court adjourned the proceedings to May 31, where further examination of the evidence and arguments from the parties involved are expected to take place.