According to Levi Uzoukwu, the lawyer representing the Labour Party (LP), the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) lacks the readiness to defend its case at the Presidential Election Petition Tribunal.
After the court adjourned its proceedings due to the absence of INEC’s first defence witness, Uzoukwu made this claim. Speaking to reporters outside the court, the LP lawyer asserted that his team had a strong case and was prepared to proceed, unlike INEC, which has shown consistent inconsistencies.
He stated, “Considering the contradictions and inconsistencies and what INEC has done, they are unprepared to defend this case. I may be proven wrong, but I prefer they present their defence so the public can witness more about what transpired during this election.”
Meanwhile, INEC failed to present its defence against the allegations made by the Labour Party candidate Peter Obi, who claimed that the 2023 presidential election was rigged.
During the resumed proceedings at the Presidential Election Petition Court (PEPC) in Abuja, INEC, its lawyers, led by Abubakar Mahmoud, SAN, informed the court that their witness was unavailable.
While the commission intended to produce three witnesses to support the outcome of the disputed presidential election, it stated that the first witness encountered a personal issue.
As a result, Mahmoud, SAN, the lead counsel, requested an adjournment, which was not opposed by Obi’s legal team led by Dr. Livy Uzoukwu, SAN, as well as the lead counsel for President Tinubu, Wole Olanipekun, SAN, and the APC’s Prince Lateef Fagbemi, SAN.
Consequently, the panel, headed by Justice Haruna Tsammani, adjourned further proceedings until Tuesday to allow INEC to present its first witness.
It is important to note that Obi, who secured the third position in the presidential contest, concluded his case on June 23. He presented considerable documentary evidence and called 13 witnesses out of the 50 initially planned to testify before the court.
Among the exhibits tendered was polling unit results from 36 states and the Federal Capital Territory, as well as documents containing the total number of Permanent Voter Cards (PVCs) collected in 32 states before the 2023 general elections.
The court admitted several other electoral documents in evidence, including certified true copies of INEC Forms EC40Gs, EC40G1, and EC40GPU, which reported instances where elections did not take place at various polling units.
All the respondents raised objections to the admissibility of the documents, stating that they would provide reasons for their disapproval in their final written address.
Obi approached the court to challenge President Tinubu’s declaration as the presidential election winner. In his joint petition with the Labour Party, Obi asserted that President Tinubu was not a valid election winner.