On Wednesday, the lawyers representing the Independent National Electoral Commission, President Bola Tinubu and All Progressives Congress aligned in open court to oppose the tendering of certified true copies of INEC Forms EC8Es from 24 Local Government Areas of Kaduna and 18 out of 23 LGAs of Kogi State, before the Presidential Election Petition Court by the Peoples Democratic Party and its candidate, Atiku Abubakar.
Recall that on Tuesday, the PDP had tendered as exhibits, the 2023 Presidential Election Results, INEC Forms EC8A (which is the summary of presidential election results) and Form EC8E series for the 36 states and the Federal Capital Territory.
Others were INEC certified documents in respect of number of PVCs collected for 2023 presidential election and the Bimodal Voter Accreditation System BVAS machine-printed report for the 36 states, including FCT.
Objections were raised against the BVAS reports but the court had admitted the exhibits in line with its previous pre-hearing report which held that all INEC certified documents shall not be objected to at the point of tendering from the bar.
At the resumed sitting on Wednesday, PDP’s lawyer, Eyitayo Jegede SAN, applied to tender additional Forms EC8A as downloaded by INEC (for 17 local government of Abia state and INEC authentication certificate), Forms EC8As for Bayelsa , Kaduna, Ogun states, certified true copies of Forms EC8Es from Kaduna and Kogi state and other electoral materials.
He said his application was in line with agreements in the pre-hearing report on settlement of documents.
But INEC’s counsel, Oluwakemi Pinheiro SAN, objected to the tendering of all the certified electoral documents except in five local government areas of Kogi State, namely, Okehi, Ajaokuta and others.
The legal team of Tinubu and APC led by Wole Olanipekun SAN and Lateef Fagbemi SAN objected to the admissibility of the documents as INEC did, saying “We are on the same page with the first respondent(INEC).”
Jegede had also prayed that the bulky electoral documents obtained from INEC and already tendered, be taken as read by the court.
Replying, Tinubu and APC counsels said since they have objected to the documents, they would not give their consent to it.
Nevertheless, the Presidential Election Petition Court’s five-man panel led by Justice Haruna Tsammani admitted the electoral documents tendered by the PDP.
Earlier, Jegede told the court that his second schedule of documents dated May 30 were served on the respondents.
But INEC expressed concerns that the schedule of documents PDP was referring to was served on him less than 30 minutes before today’s proceedings, contrary to order of court.
But Jegede disagreed with INEC’s submission, saying the delay in service was due to the difficulty in getting the documents from the electoral umpire, which they have already paid for.
The panel told the PDP to keep to the agreement reached by parties which is to submit their list of documents at least a day before the proceedings and not breach protocol.
Lawyers from INEC and PDP agreed to cooperate with regards to access to electoral documents and timely filing of list of documents.