By Jide Afolabi, Jos
The Plateau Governorship Election Petition Tribunal sitting in Jos on Monday, overruled the objections of the Plateau state governor, Rt Hon Simon Bako Lalong and his party, the All Progressives Congress, APC, which sought to stop Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, witnesses, from testifying because the respondents were not furnished with details of the petitioners witnesses.
Delivering the ruling, the Tribunal Chairman said, it would allow the petitioners witnesses because the omission did not affect or alter the substantial material facts.
The proceeding however continued as the Petitioners, Jeremiah Useni and the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, called on 11 witnesses to prove their allegations of over-voting, disruption of elections, non-compliance with Electoral Act and election guidelines among others. The witnesses were from Wase and Jos North Local Government Areas of the state.
The petitioners team was led by Edward Pwajok, SAN while G.S Pwul, SAN led the defence team.
A PDP witness, Baba Ali during cross-examinations said that, he witnessed the elections from the beginning to the end at his Polling Unit. He said that the exercise was characterised by over-voting and that he signed the result form EC8A but noticed that the figures were later changed and countersigned in his absence.
Ahmed Rasheed from Wase Local Government Area, also testified before the Tribunal that, after sorting of the entire votes cast on the election day, the Presiding Officer still made an entry of 21 votes. He said that he can not explain where the votes came from.
Another PDP witness, Nasiru Aminu of Filin Ball, Nasarawa Gwom, Jos North Local Government Area, who claimed to be an agent of the PDP whose witness statement is pleaded on page 208-209, paragraph 37A, Vol.1 of the Petitioner’s exhibit document, complained of over-voting in his Polling Unit.
Hameed Ahmad is another PDP agent who lives at Yan’shanu, asserted during Tribunal cross-examinations that, accreditation took place briefly at the beginning of the exercise but voting continued shortly without voters been accredited.
Another witness, Usman Habib Arabe of Bauchi road who deposed in the witness document admitted by the Tribunal, confirmed to the Tribunal of his presence at the Polling Unit during the exercise, and testified before the Tribunal that there were cases of electoral malpractices where APC agent went to call more than 20 people and that, each of them voted more than 20 times.
The witness said “I tried to draw the attention of security officers to the happening, but they ignored my complaints”
Rabiu Ahmad Ismail of Kuyanbana, Musa Bello of Gudus Wase Local Government Area, and Rabiu Ibrahim all witnessed that they served as PDP unit agents during the 2019 governorship elections. They also testified that the total number of votes cast exceeded a total number of Accredited Voters at their various Polling Units of assignments.
Another PDP witness whose wife delivered a baby boy while he was being expected to step into the witness box, Hameed Ahmad also testified that there was a case of over-voting at his Polling Unit.
The Tribunal was adjourned for further hearing to Tuesday, July 2, 2019.
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