The five-man Presidential Election Petition Tribunal in Abuja on Wednesday directed the Chairman of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), Prof. Mahmood Yakubu, and the commission’s Resident Electoral Commissioner in Zamfara, to produce some documents requested by the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and its presidential candidate, Alhaji Atiku Abubakar, by noon on Thursday.
The tribunal led by Justice Mohammed Garba gave the order after receiving reports by the petitioners that the INEC officials had refused to comply with the court’s subpoena served on them and the payment made for it.
The petitioners, who are challenging the outcome of the February 23, 2019 poll spoke through their lawyer, Chief Chris Uche (SAN).
Uche said the INEC officials had refused to release documents to the petitioners despite that the fees for the certification for the documents had been paid to the commission.
He alleged that the INEC officials had been instructed not to release to them electoral documents for which court subpoenas had been issued and served on them to produce in court.
“We have made concerted efforts and we stated in the letters we wrote to them that we have it on good authority that they were instructed not to release the documents,” Uche said.
Justice Garba delivered the tribunal’s ruling, after listening to the comments of lawyers representing the other respondents – INEC’s lawyer, Yunus Usman (SAN), Buhari’s lawyer President Muhammadu Buhari, Chief Wole Olanipekun (SAN), and Lateef Fagbemi (SAN), the counsel for the All Progressives Congress.
Ruling, Justice Garba said, “I have seen from the record of the court that the INEC Chairman and the Resident Electoral Commission, Zamfara State, were duly served with subpoena issued on July 9, 2019, to produce documents named therein.
“The INEC chairman and the Resident Electoral Commissioner in Zamfara and the legal team representing them are under binding obligation to ensure that the orders contained in the subpoena are obeyed.”
The court noted that the subpoena directed both INEC officials To produce the documents on July 15, 2015, but it might have been impossible to produce the documents that day.
Justice Garba added that it was clear that up till the Wednesday’s proceedings, the documents requested had yet to be produced.
He also held that since there was no specific directive for them to produce the documents at the Wednesday’s proceedings.