We were forced to sign presidential election result sheets – Atiku’s witness tells court

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By Fadehan Oyeyemi

The first witness of the former Vice President, Atiku Abubakar, in his petition against the election of President Bola Ahmed Tinubu, told the Presidential Election Petition Court on Thursday that he and other agents of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), were forced to sign the result sheets of the last presidential election in their separate polling units and at the state level.

The witness, Captain Joe Agada (retd) revealed that they signed the result sheets under duress when it became clear that the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, would not avail them of the result sheets.

Agada, who claimed to be Kogi State Collation Officer for PDP in the February 25 presidential poll, alleged that ballot papers and result sheets were manipulated by compromised electoral officers in collusion with agents of other political parties.

Led in evidence by Atiku’s lead counsel, Chris Uche, the witness alleged that he was present in several polling units where the Bimodal Voter Accreditation System (BVAS) was manipulated in favour of a particular party.

Agada specifically revealed that he visited over 20 polling units in two senatorial districts of Kogi State and watched where forms EC8A, EC8B, and EC8C were signed under duress by PDP agents as a condition for the agents to be issued with the result sheets.

Under cross-examination by INEC’s lawyer, Abdullahi Aliyu, the witness claimed to have voted at Ogugu in Olamaboro but that he was allowed to move around to monitor the election because of the special election duty tag provided to him by INEC.

Also under cross-examination by Akin Olujimi, counsel to President Tinubu, the witness maintained that he endorsed the collated state result of the election when the reality dawned on him that he would be denied a copy of the result sheet.

Answering a question, Captain Agada, who admitted to giving evidence for Atiku in 2019, admitted that he did not put his grievances against the election in his witness deposition on oath.

Similarly, when cross-examined by Lateef Fagbemi, on behalf of the All Progressives Congress (APC), the witness admitted basing his report on the information supplied to him by other agents of the party.

In his own evidence, Dr Solarin Sunday Adekunle, the Ogun State Collation Officer, said that he refused to sign the collated results in protest against electoral malpractices.

He specifically alleged that election results were inflated, prompting him to decline to sign the result sheets.

The third witness, Barrister Uzoma Nkem Abonta, told the court that the poll had so many irregularities, discrepancies, and non-compliance with the rules of the election.

Abonta said that because INEC failed to electronically transmit election results, what was declared did not reflect the genuine wish of the people of Abia State.

Meanwhile, further hearings on the petition have been shifted to June 2.

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