Witness Testimony Sheds Light on Alleged Election Rigging in Presidential Election Petition Case
PEPC Proceedings: Witness Examined on Alleged Rigging in Favor of President Tinubu
In a recent development at the Presidential Election Petition Court (PEPC) in Abuja, Mr. Peter Obi, the Labour Party candidate, presented his first witness on Tuesday to substantiate his claims of election rigging in favor of President Bola Tinubu from the All Progressives Congress (APC). The witness, Mr. Lawrence Nwakaeti, hailing from Ihiala in Anambra state, testified before the court, shedding light on a document related to a court proceeding in the United States of America (USA) involving Tinubu’s alleged involvement in a drug-related case.
The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), represented by their lead counsel, Mr. Abubakar Mahmood, SAN, expressed no objection to the admissibility of the document. However, President Tinubu and the APC vehemently opposed its admissibility, reserving their reasons for the opposition in their final briefs of argument.
In a notable development, Justice Haruna Tsammani, leading a five-member panel, admitted the document as evidence, officially marking it as Exhibit PA-5.
During cross-examination by INEC’s legal representative, Mr. Nwakaeti confirmed his status as a registered voter who participated in the presidential election held on February 25. He affirmed, “I possess my Permanent Voters Card and cast my vote at my polling unit, located in front of my house at Umuezella Village Square. I played no other role apart from exercising my civic duty.” The witness, who became a lawyer on October 13, 2000, was further questioned by Chief Wole Olanipekun, SAN, the lead counsel for President Tinubu.
When asked if he had ever visited the USA, Mr. Nwakaeti responded affirmatively, stating, “Yes, my lords, I have been there at least once. That was in 2003. I visited Michigan.” Chief Olanipekun then raised a significant point, inquiring about the witness’s earlier deposition regarding a fine of $460,000.00 imposed on the second respondent. Mr. Nwakaeti stood by his statement, asserting, “Yes, my lord, I stand by it.”
However, Chief Olanipekun continued his cross-examination, questioning the absence of any mention of the fine in the document presented as evidence. To this, Mr. Nwakaeti responded confidently, “My lords, I would be surprised because he was fined, and the document speaks for itself.”
In another line of inquiry, Chief Olanipekun asked if the document had been registered in Nigeria or if any consular certificates were attached to it. Mr. Nwakaeti clarified, “No, it was not registered. However, the documents were duly certified. My lords, there is a certificate from the person who issued it, but there is no certificate from the consular.”
Prince Lateef Fagbemi, SAN, the lead counsel for the APC, joined the cross-examination and asked if Mr. Nwakaeti was aware of a letter dated February 4, 2003, in which the Legal Attaché to the US Embassy exonerated Tinubu from any involvement in the drug-related case.