A legal practitioner and social critic, Inibehe Effiong has urged people not to panic over objections to admissibility of documents by the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, at the ongoing hearings at the Presidential Election Petition Tribunal, saying it is a distraction.
Effiong claimed that the objected documents by the INEC were duly certified, adding that the Court will act on them.
In a post via his verified Twitter handle on Thursday, the legal expert claimed that “the Electoral Commission’s neutrality is a mirage, especially in electoral litigations”.
He alleged that the INEC had basically aligned its defence strategy with the other Respondents, including the All Progressives Congress, APC.
He wrote, “People should not panic over objections to admissibility of documents by INEC at the Presidential Election Petition Tribunal. I’m not surprised by INEC’s roguish and embarrassing attitude. These are public documents duly certified. The Court will act on them. It is a distraction.
“Ordinarily, INEC being the maker of the documents which they’ve certified, that is Form EC8 series (polling unit & collation results), they’re not supposed to object to their admissibility.
“I’ve always said that INEC’s neutrality is a mirage, especially in electoral litigations.
“The documents have been admitted, though the Respondents will state the grounds for their objections in their final addresses.
“Typically, the tribunal will look into the documents and act on them.
“As long as the documents have been duly certified, there’s no cause for alarm.
“INEC has basically aligned their defence strategy with the other Respondents (Tinubu, APC and Shettima). They’re working in sync as they always do.”
President Bola Tinubu, the All Progressives Congress, APC, and the INEC had on Wednesday objected to the admission of some documents sought to be tendered in evidence by the presidential candidate of the Labour Party, Peter Obi.
Peter Obi, and his party tendered INEC form EC8A from six states to advance their petition challenging the declaration of the All Progressives Congress (APC) candidate as the winner of the February 25 presidential election.
The presiding Justice of the five-member panel of Justices of the Presidential Election Petition Court (PEPC), Justice Haruna Tsammani admitted the INEC form EC8A from 23 local government areas of Benue state and were marked exhibit PC (1-23).
For Rivers state, the court admitted INEC form EC8A from 15 Local Government areas out of the 23 local governments Areas of the state and was marked PD (1-15)
Counsel for Obi and his party, Chief Emeka Okpoko, (SAN) who handled Thursday’s proceedings on behalf of the lead counsel, Awa Kalu (SAN) tendered INEC form EC8A for 23 local government areas of Niger state, which the court admitted in evidence and were marked as exhibit PE (1-23).
The petitioners also tendered INEC form EC8A from Osun state which challenged the election of 20 local government areas of the state, which were admitted and marked as exhibits PF (1-20).
Also for Ekiti state, the court admitted in evidence, INEC forms EC8A from 16 local governments of Ekiti state and marked them as exhibit PG (1-16).
The court admitted all the documents tendered by the petitioners, despite objections to the admissibility raised by INEC, Tinubu, Kashim Shettima, and the APC, who are first to fourth respondents in the petition.
The respondents informed the court that they will give reasons for their objection to the admissibility of the documents at the address stage.