The legal team of President Bola Tinubu, Vice President Kashim Shettima have closed defence in the petition filed by the Labour Party and its presidential candidate , Peter Obi after calling one witness.
The legal team of the duo had proposed to call 39 witnesses, but closed its defence after its witness in chief, the Senate Majority Leader, Michael Bamidele testified before the Presidential Election Petitions Tribunal on Wednesday.
Led in evidence by Tinubu’s lawyer, Wole Olanipekun, Bamidele told the court that the votes secured by Tinubu in Kano state were not properly recorded and Tinubu had a shortfall of10,929 votes.
He then presented the observers preliminary report from the Economic Community of West African State which stated “Vote counting and tallying processes were carried out in a transparent, simple and professional manner, in the presence of party agents, observers, and security agents in the daytime in some polling units and with lamps in others, where voting was delayed.”
The five-man panel of judges led by Justice Haruna Tsammani, admitted in evidence, the ECOWAS report despite objections raised by Obi’s lead counsel, Livy Uzoukwu,
Under cross-examination by counsel to the All Progressives Congress Lateef Fagbemi, the witness said he was the former chairman of the Senate Committee on Judiciary and now Majority leader of the Senate.
He insisted that the Labour Party membership register for Anambra does not contain the name of Peter Obi as at April 22, 2022.
The witness further argued that as an attorney who has practiced in the United States since 1999, the forfeiture of funds traced to the bank account named Bola Tinubu was not a criminal conviction or sentence as alleged by Obi’s legal team.
The witness tendered his identity card as evidence that he is a member of the New York Bar in the USA.
He maintained that Tinubu is a Nigerian citizen by birth, based on the fact that he has been his longstanding associate for over 25 years.
Under cross-examination by Obi’s lawyer, Uzoukwu, the witness was asked if he was aware of the European Union Observer report on the Presidential Election , which he acknowledged.
Obi’s lawyer then tendered the EU report which faulted the 2023 elections. The court admitted the report despite objections from all the respondents.
Obi’s lawyer further asked the to read paragraph 17 of the ECOWAS report where it stated that there were incidents of violence, destruction of properties on election day leading to the murder of an LP senatorial candidate in Enugu . Bamidele, however countered saying the violence was caused by the Indigenous People of Biafra.
” I do not agree with this aspect (on violence). I only accept the conclusion” Bamidele said after reading the ECOWAS report.
Speaking on Tinubu’s alleged involvement in drug related crime and the forfeiture of $460,000, Bamidele told the court that what was decided by the US Court in its judgement was a civil forfeiture and not a criminal forfeiture.
The witness said the US court relied on the American law dealing on money laundering in Tinubu’s forfeiture but stressed that it was a civil matter.
After the witness was discharged from the witness box, Fagbemi told the court that his party will not call any witness because Tinubu’s star witness has established its case.
Consequently, both Olanipekun and Fagbemi closed their defence in Obi’s petition challenging outcome of teh 2023 presidential election.
Justice Tsammani then directed counsel to the Independent National Electoral Commission, Tinubu and APC to file their written address within 10 days while the petitioners’ have five days to file theirs in line with Paragraph 46 of the First Schedule to the Electoral Act.
The court said the date for adoption of final addresses would be communicated to all the parties. After this process, the court would fix a date for Judgment.