Confusion in Abia North election tribunal as Ohuabunwa’s exhibits disappear in court
* Clerk in soup
By Steve Oko
There was confusion Tuesday at the on-going hearing in the election petitions tribunal for Abia North senatorial district sitting at Umuahia High Court premises.
The hearing was on the petition by Senator Mao Ohuabunwa of the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP against Senator Orji Uzor Kalu of the All Progressive Congress, APC and the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC.
Trouble started when Mike Onyeka, one of the counsels to the petitioners, Senator Ohuabunwa, and PDP, demanded that some of the exhibits they had tendered be produced for sighting by one of the witnesses for Kalu who was on the dock for cross examination.
But the Clerk of the tribunal could not give account of the whereabouts of the said documents, claiming he could not trace them.
Piqued by the development, Ohuabuwa’s lawyer sought to know why the original documents they tendered before the tribunal in evidence and also obtained certified true copies duly signed by the clerk would suddenly develop wings.
He told the court that the sad development, a replica of what transpired at the election was the reason they were in court.
The counsel who cried foul over the scenario said he hoped the court would still produce the exhibits which according to him were some of the polling unit results from Bende Local Government Area.
But in a swift response, Kalu’s lawyer, Mr. Perfect Okorie , said Ohuabunwa’s legal team should explain the whereabouts of the missing documents, alleging that they came later to collect them for photocopying.
This allegation was sharply refuted by Onyeka who said they only applied for certified true copies which the clerk availed to them after appending his signature on them.
Apparently infuriated by the non-availability of the documents , Chairman of the three -man panel of judges , Justice Cornelius Akintoya, demanded explanations from the clerk.
” It is either you are in custody of the documents or the documents in custody of you”, he thundered at the clerk.
Continuing, the Chairman of the tribunal asked :”Why will you not give account of such sensitive documents?
The tribunal quickly rose, apparently for the panel to decide on the way forward, and later returned after 46 minutes.
At the resumption of hearing, Ohuabunwa’s lawyers insisted that the missing exhibits be produced.
Meanwhile, the Chairman of the tribunal asked them to re-file copies of the exhibits from the certified true copies in their custody, a request they obliged.
They promised to produce clean copies to avoid unnecessary eyebrows, and the matter was adjourned till July 22, and 23.
Meanwhile before the argument on the missing exhibits ensued, Ohuabunwa had produced two witnesses who were cross examined by Kalu’s legal team.
Both witnesses said INEC doctored the results of their polling units in favour of the APC candidate.
Later in an interview, Ohuabunwa who was personally at the court expressed shock that documents which were properly tendered by his legal team could suddenly go missing in the court.
He said that those who stole the documents must have been jolted by the overwhelming evedience from witnesses that the result of the poll was doctored in favour of the incumbent.
According to Ohuabunwa the glaring discrepancies in the results from the polling units and the ones purportedly awarded to the APC candidate at the ward and council collation centres “have made APC very uncomfortable because they did not close their flanks”.
He however said that the truth would always prevail no matter how much “they try to surpress it”.
His words : ” What is happening here today shows that they are in panic mode. It shows the results they are parading are cooked results. You can now see that they are up to something sinister that is why suddenly the documents are beginning to disappear “.
Ohuabunwa, nonetheless, expressed strong confidence in the tribunal that it would give fair judgment.
Responding to a question whether the development was not a tact to cause unnecessary delay in the proceedings of the tribunal, one of his lawyers, Onyeka, said they did not want to believe so yet.
He said that they had so far called about 26 witnesses, expressing faith that their remaining witnesses would be heard in the next adjourned dates.
Fielding questions also from newsmen, Kalu’s lawyer, Okorie, insisted that Ohuabunwa’s legal team should be able to account for the missing documents alleging that they were the people that had last dealing with the said documents.
EndSteve Oko, Publisher/C.E.O, WaWa News Global. For more information on advert placement and news coverage, contact us on: 08038725600, or via email firstname.lastname@example.org; email@example.com Always read WaWa News Global - Your most dependable online news platform for the latest breaking news in Nigeria.