From Yemi Oyeyemi, Abuja
The Presidential Candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in the last presidential election, Atiku Abubakar and his party on Tuesday called 13 witnesses who testified that the election which produced President Muhammadu Buhari cannot be accepted in any democracy on the grounds of non-compliance with electoral laws, violence, thuggery, non-accreditation of voters and non-qualification of Buhari to contest the election.
The 13 witnesses led in their evidence in-chief by Atiku’s lawyer Dr. Livy Uzoukwu prayed the Presidential Election Petition Tribunal sitting in Abuja to void the election becausd of malpractices.
The witnesses are Tanko Birchi from Niger State; Salisu Yusuf Maijigiri, PDP State Chairman, Katsina State; Salisu Garba Funtua; Abdusalam Idris; Aliu Umar Ustas; Ibrahim Musa; Audu Sanni; Balarabe Usman; Umar Alhaji; Ogunsanya Abiola; Uchenna Umeh; Abubakar Mohammed Wali; and Bako Umar Kakanga.
In their evidence, the witnesses disputed the return of President Muhhamadu Buhari by INEC as winner of the presidential election.
They maintained that the four states of Katsina, Kebbi, Niger and Bauchi where they voted and monitored the election that the presidential poll was characterized by rigging, allocation of votes to parties, use of thuggery to cause mayhem, non-accreditation of voters, over-voting, cancellation and alteration of election results as well as the use of police to intimidate, harass and coerce to do their biddings on the election day.
The thirteen witnesses told the tribunal led by Justice Mohammed Garba that political thugs were used by the APC to chase away PDP agents thereby making some of the agents not to sign some result sheets.
Salisu Yusuf Maijigiri, who is the Chairman of Katsina Sate PDP told the tribunal that 1,555,633 votes credited to President Buhari was not the true reflection of what transpired on the election day, maintaining that the figure was just allocated to the winner.
He alleged that agents of PDP in the 34 local government areas of the state were chased away while INEC trained ad-hoc staff were substituted with untrained ones used to produce fake results in the state.
Maijigiri insisted that PDP won in Katsina State with 905,000 votes while APC came second with 872,000 votes from the result collated by his party.
Another witness Salisu Garba Funtua alleged over-voting on the election day because card readers were abandoned. He further claimed that election was cancelled in several places due to the failure of the card reader.
Under cross examination by Olanipekun, the witness maintained that the election was not free or fair because of over voting and other malpractices.
Another witness, Abdulsalam Idris in his own testimony told the tribunal that Atiku and PDP never conceded defeat to Buhari and APC because the February 23 election could not be called an election in the full meaning of democracy.
Another witness, Aliyu Umar Ustaz, who was a local government collation officer for Atiku alleged that police connived with APC members to cheat the PDP. Under cross examination by counsel to APC, Lateef Fagbemi SAN, the witness emphasized that his party collated detailed result and that the result are been kept with the party.
In his own evidence, Tanko Birchi, a lawyer and businessman admitted that he was not physically present in all polling units but received complaints in writing and verbally on the irregularities that characterized the election and that the complains has been delivered to the party national secretariat.
Responding to a question from the APC lawyer, the witness said that he heard that President Buhari was a General in the Nigerian army and that he was in primary school between 1983 and 1985 when Buhari was a military president.
Abubakar Wali under cross examination by INEC lawyer Mr. Yunus Ustaz Usman SAN told the tribunal that he dismissed the election because it was marred with a lot of irregularities.
The witness who acted as agent of the two petitioners in Bauchi State informed the tribunal that those who carried out the alleged electoral malpractices were not put on trial by police because they acted as agents of the All Progressive Congress (APC).
In all, the petitioners called a total of 13 witnesses yesterday to substantiate their allegations against the February 23 election.
Meanwhile the tribunal has adjourned sitting till Thursday July 11.