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Presidential Poll: Armed Bandits Attack Atiku’s Witnesses

Buhari, Garba and Atiku. Photo Credit: Tribune

Armed bandits on Friday attacked witnesses of the presidential candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in the February 23, 2019 general elections, Alhaji Atiku Abubakar on their way from Zamfara State to give evidence at the Presidential Election Petition Tribunal (PEPT), sitting in Abuja.

The witnesses were said to have been ambushed on the high way and violently attacked, an incident that cut short their journey to Abuja to give evidence in Atiku, PDP’s petition.

Lead counsel to Atiku and his party, the PDP, Dr. Livy Uzoukwu (SAN), who broke the news to the Tribunal headed by Justice Mohammed Garba disclosed that the witnesses made several phone calls to him on their ordeal.

The information on the attack came after eight witnesses had testified for Atiku and the PDP to the effect that election results were transmitted into the server of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) with the use of short code and smart card readers.

Atiku’s counsel, thereafter pleaded with the Tribunal to shift further hearing in the petition till Monday to enable the petitioners reach out to the attacked witnesses.

The tribunal chairman, who sympathised with the witnesses fixed Monday, July 15, for continuation of hearing in the petition in which Atiku is praying for the cancellation of the election that produced President Muhammadu Buhari on the ground of irregularities, malpractices and non qualification  of the president to have contested the election.

Earlier, one of the witnesses and an adhoc staff of INEC, Olufemi Ogunrinde told the tribunal that he personally transmitted election results into the server of the electoral body, along with other assistant presiding officers.

The witness admitted that two hours to the election, INEC brought in a consultant who trained them on how to transmit election results into INEC server with the provided short code and smart card reader.

Answering a question from counsel to INEC, Yunus Usman (SAN), the witness also admitted that he was given guidelines and regulations for the conduct of the election by INEC during their training.

Another witness, Peter Sabo from Yobe State alleged that the APC used the security challenges in the state to perpetrate electoral fraud.

He alleged that designated centers were used after mobilising voters, contrary to the regulation that voting must be done at the polling units.
Sabo further alleged that he refused to sign result sheets when he discovered that the number of ballot papers issued out by INEC was exactly the number of votes cast for APC, without any being void, adding that information latter came on how APC agents freely distributed ballot papers for voters after PDP agents had been chased away.

The witness told the Tribunal that he wrote a petition to the DSS, Police and Civil Defence for the arrest of the identified APC agents that carried out the election malpractices, but that nothing was done till date.

Another witness, Hassam Maisarauta, also from Yobe testified and alleged that civil servants in the state were harassed, intimidated and threatened to either vote for APC or lose their jobs.

The witness who named some government officials who carried out the threat further informed the chairman that farmers were harrassed to chose between voting for APC or forego their farm lands.

Cross examined by counsel to President Buhari, Yusuf Ali (SAN), the witness could not tell the Tribunal the number of farmers threatened by government officials but further alleged that vote buying was order of the day during the election.

Other witnesses who testified yesterday for the petitioners are, Husseini Haruna, Zakari Ibrahim, Silas Paris, Usman Adamu and Modu Ahmed.

Meanwhile further hearing in the petition to resume on Monday.

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