By: Valentine Adese, Ifeanyi Oknokwo and Stanley Alponsus
As the hearing of petition No: EPT/PL/SHA/1/2016, filed by the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and its candidate, Hon. Istifanus Caleb, challenging the victory of Hon. Gideon Dashe and the All Progressive Congress (APC) began today, the Chairman of the Tribunal, Hon. Justice Ebiowei Tobi, has warned all parties not to allow the panel use its big hammer in compelling them to obey the Tribunal’s Orders and directives.
The warning came, as the Counsel to the Petitioners Friday O. Shaibu (Esq), informed the Tribunal that the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) has not issued him with the Certified True Copies (CTCs) of documents he had applied for.
Shaibu (Esq) said, “My lords, the petition is for hearing but, we are at the mercy of INEC, as they have not given us all the documents we applied for. This is the problem, which petitioners in the history of elections in this country face. If they don’t give us, we shall look for other options.
“I will not want to bring the Resident Electoral Commissioner (REC) for contempt. We will want to be at their mercy till tomorrow.”
Reacting to the information, the Chairman of the Tribunal Hon. Justice Tobi said, “This is not a laughing matter! I don’t want to carry the big hammer of the Tribunal and don’t compel me to do that.
“I don’t seem to understand why INEC is displaying a hide and seek game like Tom and Jerry. You are supposed to be independent. All you need to do is provide the documents period.
“Wherever the officer to certify the document is, let him come and certify the documents.”
Mrs. Ibrahim (Esq), who represented INEC, pleaded that “it will not get to that.”
Although, the day was termed wasted, the petitioners were able to call one witness, Mr. Iliya Istifanus.
Iliya under cross examination from the Respondents, APC, Gov. Lalong and INEC, told the Tribunal that he was the agent of PDP in Pyabor polling unit on the day of the rerun election and that he was there from 6.00am to about 10pm.
He said it is true that he did not mention the name of anybody in his witness statement but, that it was because he does not know their names.
Mr. Istifanus also told the Tribunal that 1300 ballot papers were issued, that at the end the result was recorded, adding “the number of votes cast did not exceed the total number of registered voters.”
However, he said, “not only those who were duly registered and accredited voted”
The matter has been adjourned to tomorrow 26th April, 2016 for continuation of hearing of the petitioner’s case.