The five-man Presidential Election Petitions Tribunal in Abuja on Monday watched the four video clips presented by the Peoples Democratic Party and its candidate for the February 23 presidential election, Alhaji Atiku Abubakar, to prove some of the allegations in their petition challenging the outcome of the polls.
The video clips were an interview which a Resident Electoral Commissioner of the Independent National Electoral Commission in Akwa Ibom State, Mike Igini, granted on Sunday Politics, a programme of Channels Television.
Igini said in the interview that the results of the 2019 general elections would be electronically transmitted to the commission’s server.
Another one showed army officers on Channels TV denying Buhari’s claim that his West African School Certificate was with the Nigerian Army.
The third one showed INEC Chairman, Prof Mahmood Yakubu, on Channels TV meeting with members of Computer Professionals and Practitioners in Nigeria, where he expressed the hope that the results of the general elections would be electronically transmitted.
Yakubu was seen saying in the clip that INEC was ready to partner computer professionals in the deployment of Information Communications Technology for the general elections as might be allowed “within the law”.
The fourth video clip was that of AFEX Nigeria training of INEC ad hoc workers on electronic transmission of results of the elections.
Under cross-examination by INEC’s lawyer, Yunus Usman (SAN), Atiku’s witness Segun Showunmi, confirmed that the videos were recorded before the presidential poll.
He confirmed that Igini was not the spokesman for INEC.
Showunmi was also asked if he was aware of an interview granted Channels Television by INEC chairman on February 8, 2019, when he was said to have declared that electronic transmission of results would not be used for the general elections.
Usman said, “During the course of your duty as Media Adviser to the 1st petitioner, you watched the interview of the INEC Chairman, particularly on Channels Television.
“On February 8, 2019, the INEC chairman on Channels gave reasons why electronic transmission of results of the elections would not be possible. Are you are aware?”
Showunmi said, “Rather I listened to him when he said it was possible.”
Asked if he was aware of February 6, 2019 statement by INEC, Showunmi said he would possibly have the statement but that it was not available at the moment.
Under cross-examination by Buhari’s lawyer, Alex Izinyon (SAN), Showunmi said his job as Atiku’s Media Adviser entailed downloading the video clips of INEC chairman’s interviews.
At that point, Izinyon brought out a video CD, which he sought permission to play to the tribunal with the television and video player earlier used by the petitioners.
But the petitioners’ lawyer, Chris Uche, objected.
“They cannot use our equipment to play their video,” Uche said.
The laughter, which enveloped the entire room, had barely died down, when he rose again to say, “There is something in the digital world that they called virus. If we allow them to use our equipment, they may introduce virus to it.”
This comment again three everyone in the room, including the Justices, into another round of laughter.
Uche said although the VCD was not “pleaded” as part of Buhari’s proposed exhibits, he would not object to the playing of the clip on the equipment provided by the respondents’ teams.
Izinyon then sought and obtained an adjournment of the proceedings to enable him to produce his equipment on Thursday.
The tribunal subsequently adjourned the matter till Thursday for the continuation of Showunmi’s cross-examination, during which Buhari’s legal team would be expected to play their video exhibit.
Counsel for the three respondents – Usman for INEC, Izinyon for Buhari and Adeniyi Akintola (SAN) for the APC – had opposed the application to play the video clips.
They also objected to the admissibility of the entire 48 proposed exhibits.
But Justice Garba held in a ruling that it was part of the agreement reached among parties in their pre-hearing report adopted by the tribunal.
He said, “None of the parties can renege or deliberately deviate in a clear breach of the agreement.
“The documents now sought to be tendered therefore clearly fall within the terms of agreement freely entered into by parties at the pre-hearing session and adopted by this court as its directives that will guide the conduct of these proceedings.”
The tribunal went on to admit the VCDs as Exhibits P36 to P83.
The certificate of compliance with the provision of the Evidence Act accompanying the exhibits was admitted as Exhibit 84.
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