Abia North tribunal : Drama in court as INEC’s lawyer tenders electoral guideline with missing pages
By Steve Oko
There was a mild drama Tuesday at the on-going Abia North Election Petitions Tribunal sitting at the Umuahia High Court when counsel to the petitioner, Senator Mao Ohuabunwa drew the attention of the three -man panel to the fact that some pages were missing in the copy of the Electoral Guideline tendered as exhibit by the legal team of the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC.
Ohuabunwa’s lawyer, Mike Onyeka raised an observation that pages 5, 6 and 24 were missing in the document tendered by the electoral umpire.
But he was quickly challenged by INEC’s lawyer, Adizuwa Okorafor who said it should not be his headache .
He argued that it was prejudicial for the petitioner’s counsel to impute motives on the alleged missing pages .
But in a swift response, Ohuabunwa”s lawyer said his INEC counterpart should rather be thankful to him for observing the serious error which he argued was not in the interest of any party.
He said that he decided to tender a certified true copy of the INEC guideline with complete pages since it was already a public document.
Meanwhile the tribunal accepted the certified true copy of the electoral guideline tendered by Ohuabunwa’s counsel, and marked it as Exhibit PW 41.
Proceeding continued with Ohuabunwa calling his star witness, Chief Ukpai Ukairo for his testimony and cross examination by the respondents.
However, the star witness who served as the petitioner’s chief agent at the poll stood in the duck for five hours confirming a dossier of documents in his written submission during the pre-trial .
A large chunk of the over 3000 documents deposed by the petitioner’s legal team was sighted and confirmed by the star witness who was intermittently interjected by counsels to the respondents.
The tribunal was however, patient to listen to the testimonies of the star witness.
However, counsel to the respondents objected to cross -examining the star witness, arguing that there was no sufficient time left for them to do so as the witness had already spent over five hours in the duck.
Meanwhile, the Chairman of the three -man panel , Justice Cornelius Akintayo, adjourned hearing till Wednesday, July 30.
Later in an interview, Ohuabunwa who was physically present at the court expressed satisfaction that the tribunal allowed his lawyers to represent the missing documents.
He said his confidence had been rekindled ,expressing strong hope that he would get justice in the end.
Ohuabunwa (PDP), who is challenging the victory of Senator Orji Uzor Kalu (APC), insisted that the result of the election was doctored in favour of the APC candidate.
He said Kalu was never declared winner of the poll by the Returning Officer who merely announced the scores of various contestants as the total number of cancelled votes was far higher than the margin of win.
The former Speaker, ECOWAS Parliament expressed shock that Kalu claimed victory of the poll “where as he was never returned. “
“I thank God that the missing documents have been re-tendered. Initially I was not comfortable that some of the exhibits tendered went missing.
“But today we have been allowed to represent them. And you could see that what we re-tendered were all certified true copies of documents we got from INEC.
“I have confidence in the tribunal. The truth is clear. How can 10 out of 11 wards in my Arochukwu LGA including my own ward be cancelled? Look at what happened in Bende. APC has three different results showing the results in Bende were doctored in its favour “.
He urged his supporters and the people of Abia North to remain calm and prayerful while awaiting the tribunal’s verdict.
Asked how he felt now that he was “at least temporarily out of power”, Ohuabunwa said he was not perturbed as he had continued to impact on lives of his constituents.
He said he had also continued to commission some of the completed projects he attracted while inspecting the on-going ones as well as flagging off some others.
Ohuabunwa however regretted that Kanu had turned Abia North into a laughing stock within his short stay at the Senate through “his anti -Igbo comments and embarrassing display of ignorance of key national issues.”
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 email@example.com; firstname.lastname@example.org Always read WaWa News Global - Your most dependable online news platform for the latest breaking news in Nigeria.