The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) has explained why it’s objecting to the tendering and admissibility of its documents as exhibits by the presidential candidate of the Labour Party (LP), Mr Peter Gregory Obi, to establish his petition against the election of President Bola Ahmed Tinubu.
The electoral body had on Thursday vehemently objected to the admission of several documents brought to the Presidential Election Petition Court (PEPC) by Obi and the Labour Party for the purpose of tendering them as exhibits to justify their petition.
However, at Friday’s proceedings, INEC lawyer Kemi Pinheiro SAN, told the court that the electoral body opposed the presentation of certified true copies of the documents, mainly election result sheets, because Obi and the Labour Party did not challenge the conduct of the election in the areas relating to the documents.
Pinheiro explained that issues were not joined in the local government areas where the result sheets were sought to be tendered, adding that it was wrong of the petitioners to go beyond the areas where the election is disputed.
He accused Obi of trying to confuse issues by bringing result sheets where he did not dispute the election and the returns adding that the presidential candidate ought to have guided himself with the pleadings in his petition.
According to INEC, the local government areas unlawfully smuggled into proceedings of the court are totally strange to the petition and cannot stand in the face of the law.
INEC’s explanation offered while lawyers were ordered to make an appearance, however, drew the anger of the Presiding Justice of the Court, Justice Haruna Simon Tsammani.
Justice Tsammani held that it was wrong of INEC’s lawyer to have smuggled the explanation into the proceedings because all parties in the petition had agreed to offer such explanations at the address stage of proceedings.
Pinheiro, in return, apologized to the court but said that he was forced to speak up on the objections because of the deluge of criticisms suffered in the media by his client.
The senior lawyer hinted that social media users had turned his client to an object of ridicule without finding out reasons for objections against the admissibility of the documents.
Meanwhile, the court has admitted as exhibits form EC8A from 21 local government areas of Adamawa and eight local government areas of Bayelsa States and parts of Rivers and Niger State as tendered by Obi and the Labour Party.
Peter Afoba, a Senior Advocate of Nigeria SAN, is conducting proceedings for Obi and LP.
Earlier, hearing in the petition of the Allied People’s Movement (APM) was further shifted to June 9 by the court to enable lawyers to obtain the May 26 judgment of the Supreme Court that would determine whether the petition still has life to sustain it or not.