Peter Obi’s Counsel Raises Concerns: INEC Accused of Deliberately Delaying Proceedings and Withholding Requested Documents

On Monday, the Labour Party (LP) and its presidential candidate, Mr. Peter Obi, made allegations against the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), claiming that the commission was deliberately stalling proceedings by refusing to provide requested documents. The LP and Obi are petitioners in the case marked CA/PEPC/03/2023, which challenges the election of President Bola Tinubu. The respondents in the case are President Bola Tinubu, Vice President Kashim Shettima, and the All Progressives Congress (APC).

During the hearing at the Presidential Election Petition Court, the LP and Obi stated that they were unable to proceed with their case due to INEC’s refusal to provide them with the requested documents. Mr. Jubrin Okutepa, counsel for the LP, informed the court that none of the documents requested from INEC had been provided. He emphasized that his client had made multiple requests for these documents, which were crucial for their petition, and had even made the necessary payments for them. Okutepa raised concerns that INEC appeared to be intentionally delaying the proceedings.

In response, Mr. Abubakar Mahmoud, SAN counsel for INEC, informed the court that he had received a letter from the petitioners dated May 15 but had not received any subsequent communication. He assured the court that INEC had provided all the documents requested by the subpoenaed witnesses and had not denied the petitioners access to any document. Mahmoud urged the petitioners to refrain from lamenting and expressed his commitment to the importance of the case.

Mr. Wole Olanipakun, SAN counsel for Tinubu and Shettima, promised to facilitate a meeting between senior counsels to address the raised issues. The court encouraged the parties to reach a better understanding and cooperate to ensure the smooth progress of the proceedings.

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The petitioners then presented their seventh witness (PW 7), Loretta Ogah, an architect with Amazon Web Services Incorporated (AWS). However, the respondents objected to the adoption of the witness’s statement, claiming that they had just been served with the documents. Mahmoud stated that he needed time to study the documents before proceeding with the examination. Olanipakun also objected to the adoption of the witness statement but clarified that they did not oppose the witness giving her evidence.

The petitioners submitted the witness’s employment letter from Amazon, her resume, and six reports demonstrating the health status of AWS dashboard of cloud services in 33 regions, as well as certificates of compliance. The court admitted these documents as evidence.

The five-member panel, led by Justice Haruna Tsammani, adjourned the proceedings until Tuesday to allow for the cross-examination of the witness and further hearing of the petition.

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