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A tense standoff ensued between the Labour Party and their Governorship candidate, Chijioke Edeoga, in Enugu state, over the impending appearance of Dr Chukwuemeka Chukwu, the Resident Electoral Commissioner (REC), at the Tribunal.
The crux of the matter lies in the use of the Bimodal Voter’s Accreditation System (BVAS) during the governorship election conducted on March 18, 2023.
Tensions escalate as the Labour Party demands access to the Bimodal Voter’s Accreditation System (BVAS) through a subpoena issued to INEC.
However, INEC has thus far refused to provide the BVAS to the party, and despite a separate subpoena on the REC to permit LP inspection, access remains elusive.
The Tribunal reconvened on Saturday, where lawyers presented arguments concerning the proper method of serving a subpoena, citing relevant Supreme Court precedents.
Eventually, the Tribunal Chairman, Kudirat Akano, ruled in favour of substituted service on INEC, delivered through its counsel, Okoye.
The legal representation for the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and its candidate, Peter Mbah, comprised prominent counsels, including Onyechi Ikpeazu (SAN), Anthony Ani (SAN), Ikechukwu Oluoma, and several others.
Once the testimonies of multiple witnesses were taken, Valerie Azinge, acting as counsel for the Labour Party, seized the opportunity to address an important matter.
She raised the issue of a subpoena that was reportedly served on the REC, requesting the presentation of the BVAS machine.
The INEC counsel countered the claim, asserting that the subpoena was not served directly on the REC as per a Supreme Court ruling mandating personal service on the REC.
Despite the court upholding the PDP’s submission, the Labour Party’s counsel made an additional application for substituted service on the subpoena due to an inadvertent return of the previous service.
The Tribunal granted the application for substituted service on the INEC counsel inside the court, through the counsel, Okoye. The subpoena was served on the INEC counsel as directed.
As LP’s presentation of their case concludes on Sunday, the party is on tenterhooks for the Tribunal’s judgment on the INEC Subpoena dispute.
Like LP, APGA and its governorship candidate, Mr Frank Nweke Jr., had their case heard and the verdict was deferred to Sunday.
‘Having serviced the INEC council, it means that the REC has been served with the subpoena, but what will happen with the subpoena is now what we will see tomorrow (Sunday) because if tomorrow is Saturday and tomorrow is Sunday and the INEC counsel has not said that the subpoena has gotten to the REC, we really don’t know what will happen tomorrow (Sunday), but the purport of the subpoena is to bring the BVAS machine and give evidence,’ PDP counsel Uloma stated.
Apprehensions arose regarding the delivery of the subpoena to INEC during the time between Saturday evening and Sunday morning when the tribunal adjourned proceedings.