• Friday, June 21, 2024
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BusinessDay

We were forced to sign election results, Atiku’s witnesses tell tribunal

Tribunal

One captain Joe Agada (Rtd), the first witness called by the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), and Atiku Abubakar in the petition challenging the outcome of the February 25 presidential election told the Presidential Election Petition Court (PEPC) that he and other agents of the party were forced to sign the result sheets of the election.

The witness, under cross examination at the resumed hearing on Thursday,  claimed that they signed the result sheets under duress when it became clear that the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) would not avail them of the result sheets.

In his evidence in chief, Agada who claimed to be the Kogi State Collation Agent for the PDP in the election alleged that ballot papers and result sheets were manipulated by compromised electoral officers in collusion with agents of other political parties.

Agada, claimed that he visited over 20 polling units in two Senatorial Districts of Kogi State and watched where forms EC8A, EC8B and EC8C were signed under duress by the PDP agents as a condition for the agents to be issued with the result sheets.

During cross examination by INEC’s lawyer Abdullahi Aliyu, the witness was asked to prove how he saw INEC Form EC8As and BVAS machine manipulated in Ogene Oforachi, in Ogugu Ward 3, Kogi state.

“As a State collation agent, I had opportunity of visiting some of the polling units using the INEC state collation agent tag,” he said, further alleging that  BVAS machine in over 20 polling units were manipulated .

“Apart from where I voted, which was at Ogene- Oforachi village in Ogugu Ward in Kogi State, I also served as my party’s State Collation Agent. I had a tag and a vehicle with a sticker that identified me as being on election duty. The exemption tag which was issued to me by INEC, allowed me to move around on the election day”, he added.

When asked whether the disputed INEC forms were signed by PDP polling unit agents under him, he affirmed they did but that the signing was done under duress.

Akin Olujimi,counsel for President Tinubu asked him if he signed state collated result. He admitted he did but was forced to.

“I was forced to sign the collated result sheets in Lokoja,” Agada added.

The second witness, Ogun PDP state collation, Sunday Solarin, was then called. He testified that his team witnessed inflation of votes in several PUs out of the 5,040 polling units in Ogun state and that he refused to sign several INEC Forms.

Still under cross examination, Tinubu’s lawyer, Olujimi asked the second witness if he concluded there was intimidation and harassment of voters during his analysis of results. He responded that his discovery was from the field.

PDP’s third witness that came up after Solarin was Uzoma Nkem Abonta, who hails from Umuobuo Akwete, Abia state. He said he served as PDP state collation officer in the state.

The third witness said his statement was based on what he observed from the collation centre and from the polling units he visited in addition to reports he got from agents in the respective LGAs.

Another lawyer representing Tinubu, Yusuf Ali SAN, took over the cross examination and asked the witness if he inputted any set of result different from what INEC declared in his statement on oath. He admitted not putting the results he got from polling agents in his statement on oath.

“There was irregularities and substantial non-compliance,” he said.

The witnesses were discharged and the court adjourned to Friday for continuation of hearing.