As the National Assembly election petition tribunal sitting at the Judicial Headquarters Abakaliki continue its pre-trial sitting, Counsel to the Petitioner, Chief Mba Okweni (SAN) and Counsel to the 1st Respondent, Chief Arthur Obi Okafor has continued to trade words over the authenticity of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) certified true copy result.
Speaking to journalist shortly after today’s sitting at the tribunal, Chief Mba Okweni who described as ridiculous the claimed by candidate of the People’s Democratic Party (PDP), Hon Lazarus Ogbee and INEC that the petitioner alleged forged the result sheets issued to him for inspection by the commission insisted that the result given to the petitioner tarries with what they got from the field.
According to the SAN, he said, “this is ridiculous, I think INEC need to consider how documents duly certified by the commission are signed because I wonder how the same document we got from INEC in the field during the election become forged.”
“We want them to bring the one they said is the proper one out so as to compare it with what was used in the conduct of the election because what we want to put before the tribunal is that both the ones they gave to us from the field and the ones INEC gave to us, are the same and the results should be computed on the bases of things that happened in the field, not the manipulation they did at the wards and local government collation centers.”
“Elections were not conducted at the wards but at the polling units, so the actual election result computed at the polling units should be declared. That is why I want the tribunal to examine whether the person INEC declared winner is the actual winner of the election on the basis of what took place at polling units.”
“Today is the continuation of the pre-trial, so the last application that was pending before the tribunal by the second respondent which is PDP was seeking to dismiss the petition on the ground that we did not apply within time but that we have applied within the close of pleading.”
He further said, “this petition is going to be an interesting petition, we want to see how INEC will come and discredit its own documents because what we have is INEC gave to us. What they gave to the unit agents, the party agents, police and others. What they gave to us is what we are coming to tender.”
“So if they are saying that the card readers they used or the results they declared in the election does not tally with the results they gave to the party, it means they did not do proper election. The result at the polling units tarries with the case we are making. So we want to see how they will ridicule their own process.”
However, Counsel to the 1st Respondent, Chief Obi Okafor represented by Barr. Friday Agbom maintained that the documents the petitioner intends to present to the tribunal were forged, adding that they will seek the leave of the tribunal to reject the documents.
Agbom stated that the 2nd respondent (PDP) led by Barr Roy Umahi had during the pre-trial, move a motion seeking to strike out the petitioner’s petition on the ground of non-compliance with the electoral rule.
According to him: “The electoral rule specifically provides that immediately the respondent files his response, the petitioner replies to the response and they apply to the court on what we call pre-trial information within seven days which they did not do and the rule is that you have to do that as soon as the respondent has complied but they waited until all respondents have filed their responses.”
“Every respondent is treated as an entity, and is an independent party, in the suit. There is a fundamental error that negates section 48 of the electoral act and as a matter of fact, the court will be looking at it, wither there is a conflict between the section 48 and section 137 of the electoral act.”
“The law has never contradicted themselves so how could they now say that section of the law should not overrule the other section of the law is now left for the court to determine but I Know it will be in the interest of justice.”
“The motion is challenging the jurisdiction of the court because if the court agrees with us in our position, it means the court will no longer have the locus standi to continue with the matter and that means striking it out or dismissal of the suit.”
Meanwhile, the chairman of the election Tribunal, Justice Aprioku adjourned the hearing to 1st of June.