HomePoliticsEdeoga Wraps Up Case Against Mbah, INEC With 30 Witnesses

Edeoga Wraps Up Case Against Mbah, INEC With 30 Witnesses

The case filed by the Labour Party and its governorship candidate, Chijioke Edeoga, has come to a close. The case was centered on the Enugu State governorship election held on March 18.

Peter Mbah, representing the Peoples Democratic Party, emerged victorious as the elected governor. In light of alleged rigging and concerns over the highest valid votes cast, Edeoga and his party are actively disputing the election victory of Mbah, the candidate from the Peoples Democratic Party.

Edeoga is putting forward a strong argument to the tribunal, praying for the disqualification of Mbah, claiming an alleged forgery of the National Youth Service Corps discharge certificate.

After providing multiple documentary pieces of evidence and calling upon 30 witnesses to testify before the Enugu State Governorship Election Petition Tribunal, the LP candidate officially closed his case.

Exhibits tendered before the court by the LP candidate consisted of form EC8A, showcasing the polling unit results from the contested areas, form EC8B, containing the ward collation results, a concise summary of the overall results, and the official declaration document.

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Alongside numerous other exhibits, the petitioners introduced the NYSC-produced documents of Oma and Partners, form EC9 of Chijioke Edeoga and Governor Peter Mbah, and the BVAS machines, which were presented in court by the Resident Electoral Commissioner (REC) who had been summoned to appear on Sunday.

Edeoga had initially indicated that he would present 37 witnesses in the matter. However, he concluded his case on Sunday, having relied on the testimony of the 18th witness, the Enugu State Resident Electoral Commissioner (REC), on behalf of the petitioners.

At the continuation of the Sunday hearing, where the REC was summoned to present the BVAS machines, Victor Okafor, one of the senior staff members of the commission, arrived with only five BVAS machines, failing to meet the petitioners’ specified quantity.

An application for a subpoena was filed by Edeoga to ensure the REC’s compliance in producing the BVAS machines from Owo, Ugbawka 1 Registration Areas in Nkanu East LGA, and certain polling units in Igboeze North LGA.

Under the petitioners’ counsel’s scrutiny during cross-examination, Okafor, representing REC Dr. Chukwuemeka Chukwu, revealed that he was tasked with producing five BVAS machines in accordance with the tribunal’s directive.

He informed the tribunal that the information produced by the BVAS machines during the March 18 governorship election has been integrated into the BVAS report received from the Headquarters in Abuja.

He informed the tribunal that the information produced by the BVAS machines during the March 18 governorship election has been integrated into the BVAS report received from the Headquarters in Abuja.

The codes of the five BVAS machines brought to the hearing were disclosed by him and listed as follows: 14/08/06/003, 14/08/01/002, 14/08/06/005, 14/08/17/012, and 14/08/01/003.

‘All the machines contained the BVAS and accessories,’ he stated.

As he explained, the lack of use of the BVAS machines since the election meant that he could not offer any additional information or operate them beyond the scope of his previous statements.

Besides lacking access to the BVAS machines, he did not furnish the certified true copies of the BVAS report for each polling unit, as well as the certified true copies of the voters’ register employed in Owo and Ugbawka 1 Registration Areas in Nkanu East LGA during the 2023 governorship election.

He maintained his position that no information was intentionally withheld, stating that all documents the petitioners applied and paid for have been given to them without delay.

While the case was ongoing, Mr. Eyitayo Fatogun (SAN), the LP counsel, presented the five BVAS machines to the Tribunal. However, the PDP counsel, Dr. Onyechi Ikpeazu, and Mr. Alex Izinyon, Mbah’s counsel, opposed the tendering of the machines, stating that the reasons for their objection would be revealed during their final addresses.

The tribunal, in its decision, granted admission to the BVAS machines as evidence, despite the objections presented.

When asked by Mbah’s counsel, the INEC staff explained that the machine’s capacity was limited to holding solely successfully uploaded accredited information.

LP’s two final witnesses, Mr. Abba Godwin and Amos Onyebuchi, who served as agents in Ette Central and Ikwele Ugbele respectively, both from Igbo-Etiti North LGA, revealed instances of overvoting at their polling units during the governorship election.

In her closing remarks, Dr. V.J. Azinge (SAN), the lead counsel to the petitioner, thanked the Tribunal for their patience and formally concluded the petitioner’s case.

Mr. H. Okoli, the INEC counsel, requested the Tribunal to allocate a date for the commencement of their defense.

Justice M. K. Akano, the Tribunal Chairman, announced the adjournment of the case until July 18, to allow INEC to start presenting its defense.

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