Peter Obi/LP Present First Witness Against Tinubu/APC

The Labour Party and its presidential candidate in the February 25 presidential election, Peter Obi, on Tuesday, opened their petition against the Independent National Electoral Commission, candidate of the All Progressives Congress, Bola Tinubu, his running mate, Kashim Shetima and APC, by calling one witness out of the proposed 50.

The calling of the witness who identified himself as Lawrence Nwakaeti, marked the commencement of a full-blown hearing of the petition by the Presidential Election Petition Court sitting in Abuja.

Dr Livy Uzoukwu SAN, who earlier announced the appearance for the petitioners told the court that Jubril Okutepa SAN would anchor the examination.

Upon examination, Nwakaeti who hails from Ihiala, Anambra state admitted that on 20 March 2023, he deposed a witness statement, which he adopted as his evidence.

Before, the witness testified, Okutepa had tendered a judgment of a District Court in the United States on the alleged $460,000 forfeited by Tinubu for drug-related offenses.

However, Tinubu and his party informed the court that they have objections against the admission of the judgment but reserved such at the final address stage.

Under cross-examination by Olanipekun, the witness admitted that the judgment was not registered in Nigeria.

The witness also admitted that there was no certificate from any Consular in Nigeria or America in support of the judgment but insisted that “the judgment speaks for itself”.

He claimed to have been to the United States of America in 2003, and read the judgment in its entirety adding that he would be surprised if no mention was made of $460,000 forfeiture.

Also under cross-examination by counsel to the APC, Prince Lateef Fagbemi SAN, the witness said that the American Court judgment had no certificate given under the hand of any American Police Officer.

He denied knowledge of a February 4, 2003, Formal Clearance Report by Legal Attachee from the American Embassy in respect of the alleged indictment and forfeiture.

When asked by Fagbemi SAN to produce a copy of the charges against Tinubu, the witness admitted not having any but maintained that the indictment and forfeiture are from civil proceedings.

Earlier on cross-examination by Kenny Pinhero, on behalf of Abubakar Mahmoud, counsel for the INEC, the witness said, “I am a registered voter and voted at Umuezeala Village square Amorka (My polling unit).
He admitted not playing any other role except exercising his civic duty of voting.

He told the PEPC that his statements in paragraphs 4,15, 16, and 17 of the witness deposition are not based on his legal opinion but based on matters of pure law.

In paragraph 17 of his witness deposition, Nwakaeti insisted that the US government fined Tinubu 460,000 dollars.

Meanwhile, the Presiding Justice of the Court, Justice Haruna Simon Tsammani has shifted further hearing in the petition till May 31.




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