Inibehe Effiong, a legal practitioner and social critic, has urged people not to panic over the Independent National Electoral Commission’s, INEC’s, objections to the admissibility of documents at the ongoing Presidential Election Petition Tribunal hearings, calling them a distraction.
Effiong claimed that the INEC-obtained documents had been duly certified and that the Court would act on them.
On Thursday, the legal expert claimed that “the Electoral Commission’s neutrality is a mirage, especially in electoral litigations” in a post on his verified Twitter handle.
He claimed that the INEC’s defence strategy was essentially the same as that of the other Respondents, including the All Progressives Congress, APC.
“People should not panic over INEC’s objections to the admissibility of documents at the Presidential Election Petition Tribunal,” he wrote. I’m not surprised by INEC’s arrogant and embarrassing behaviour. These are official public documents. The Court will take action against them. It’s a diversion.
“Normally, because INEC created the documents that they certified, Form EC8 series (polling unit & collation results), they are not supposed to object to their admissibility.”
“I’ve always maintained that INEC’s neutrality is a sham, particularly in electoral litigation.”
“The documents have been admitted, but the Respondents’ grounds for objection will be stated in their final addresses.”
“Typically, the tribunal will review the documents and take action based on them.”
“There is no cause for concern as long as the documents have been properly certified.”
“INEC’s defence strategy is essentially the same as that of the other Respondents (Tinubu, APC, and Shettima).” They’re in sync, as they always are.”
According to reports, President Bola Tinubu, the All Progressives Congress, APC, and the INEC objected on Wednesday to the admission of some documents sought to be tendered in evidence by the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) presidential candidate, Alhaji Abubakar Atiku.
At the resumed hearing of Atiku and the PDP’s petition challenging President Tinubu’s election at the Presidential Election Petition Court in Abuja, counsel to the petitioners, Mr Chris Uche, SAN, said the team had prepared a second schedule of documents to be tendered.
Some of the documents presented in evidence by the petitioners were certified true copies of Form EC8A downloaded by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) from its Result Viewing Portal (IREV).
The Form EC8A was for eight Bayelsa local government areas, 23 Kaduna State local government areas, 20 Ogun State local government areas, and 23 Kogi State local government areas.
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Form EC8As are sheets that are used to collect results at the polling unit level.
Mr Kemi Pinhero, SAN, counsel to INEC, however, objected to the admissibility of all documents relating to Kogi except those of five Local Government Areas, namely Olamaboro, Ofu, Omala, Okehi, and Ajaokuta.
He claimed this was because the petitioners’ pleadings specifically pleaded with the five local governments whose documents he did not oppose.
Pinhero also questioned the admissibility of documents pertaining to the BVAS, with the exception of Kogi, Rivers, and Sokoto states.