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Tinubu: PEPC permits Obi to tender video clips in evidence

The PEPC, presiding over the Presidential Election Petition Court in Abuja, granted permission to Mr. Peter Obi, the Labour Party candidate, to present two video clips as evidence in his case challenging the outcome of the 2023 presidential election.

During the court proceedings, Obi, who maintains that he was the true winner of the presidential contest held on February 25, submitted the video recordings stored on two flash drives through his legal team member, Mr. Jubril Okutekpa, SAN.

Obi had previously informed the court that he had subpoenaed Channels Television to provide the recordings as evidence.

Okutekpa confirmed that the TV station had been served two separate subpoenas, dated May 30 and June 6, and that a staff member was present to present the requested evidence.

The five-member panel, led by Justice Haruna Tsammani, admitted the subpoenas as evidence and marked them as Exhibits PBH-1 and PBH-2.

Subsequently, Mr. Lucky Obewo-Isawode, a Senior Reporter/Editor at Channels TV, was summoned to testify as a witness.

However, Chief Akin Olujinmi, SAN, representing President Bola Tinubu, objected to allowing the witness to testify or present any evidence in the case.

Tinubu’s lawyer argued that the witness was not competent to testify since his written statement was not provided at the time the petition was filed, citing Paragraph 4 (5) and (6) of the First Schedule to the Electoral Act 2022.

According to Tinubu’s lawyer, the law clearly stipulates that all necessary documents, including the list of witnesses, must be attached to the petition at the time of filing. He emphasized that a petition that fails to comply with these requirements should not be accepted. Tinubu’s legal team received the statement from the witness after the proceedings had already commenced.

“This is over three months after the declaration of the result of the election was made.

“This witness was not listed by the petitioners and his statement was not attached to the petition. To that extent, he is not a competent witness who can testify before this court,” President Tinubu’s lawyer insisted.

Citing plethora of decided case laws, Chief Olujinmi, SAN, argued that Obi and LP were aware that they would rely on video recordings, as at the time they filed the petition.

Adopting the submissions of President Tinubu’s counsel, the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, through its own lawyer, Mr. Kemi Pinhero, SAN, argued that Obi and LP should have listed the proposed evidence in their petition.

However, counsel for the petitioners, Okutekpa, SAN, contended that the subpoena was an order of court which his clients had no command over.

“My lords, my submission is that a subpoenaed witness is competent to testify in this matter,” Okutekpa, SAN, added, even as he relied on Paragraph 41 (5) and (6) of the First Schedule to the Electoral Act.

Despite the objections, the panel admitted the two flash drives in evidence and marked them as Exhibits PBH-3 and PBH-4.

However, when counsel for the petitioners applied for contents of the flash drives to be played in the open court, President Tinubu’s lawyer, again, opposed.

He contended that his client was not served with any copy of the flash drive.

Tinubu’s lawyer said, “This case is not hide and seek. We are entitled to be served with a copy so that we can know the content and be able to prepare. Until we are served, we will oppose allowing it to be played.

“The material, having not been served on us earlier, it will deprive the 2nd and 3rd Respondents (President Tinubu and Vice President Kashim Shettima) of their right to fair hearing.

“We have not been able to prepare against it.”

But INEC’s counsel, Pinhero, SAN, said he saw no reason why the clips should not be played since the Exhibits were already before the court.

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