Osun State Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) on Tuesday informed the election petition tribunal that the certificates of the governor-elect, Ademola Adeleke, are not in the custody of the state, affirming that the certificates were submitted to the National Headquarters of INEC, not the state REC.
Appearing at the tribunal, the Deputy Director of Election and Party Management, Sheu Muhammed, informed the tribunal that the National Chairman of INEC rather than state REC holds custody of the candidates’ electoral documents, positing that this was the reason the application should be normally directed at the INEC National headquarters.
“We don’t have access to the documents. It was submitted to the INEC headquarters through the party headquarters since 2018 before the advent of the 2022 election.
“The petitioner’s counsel has subpoenaed INEC to produce Adeleke certificates used in 2018 election,” he said.
He however stated that the documents being demanded by the petitioner were submitted as required by law, to the national office of INEC through the national headquarters of the party, noting that: “The state INEC is not in the custody of such documents.”
According to him, “we are not in the custody of the documents. The documents were submitted to the National Headquarters. We were only given photocopies by the National Headquarters for display.
“After we might have done with litigations, the only record we kept in our office are form EC8A Series, we don’t have the photocopies again. We have decongested our system.”
However, the counsel to the petitioner, Akin Olujinmi, applied to the court to give an order to the REC to get the documents from the INEC headquarters.
Responding to the application made by the petitioner’s counsel, Paul Ananaba, SAN counsel to INEC, argued that the subpoena served on the REC had been obeyed by the REC who sent an officer under him who informed the court that it’s the National Headquarters of INEC and not the REC that has the custody of the documents being sought by the petitioners.
He further prayed to the court to fill a fresh application for an amendment or renewal of the subpoena application, describing it as “an abuse of court process as a subpoena cannot be amended or renewed.”
He also stated that the subpoena on the REC was misdirected and incompetent, citing section 69 of the Electoral Act 2022 which provides that it is only the Chief Electoral Officer, that is INEC Chairman, who has custody of all documents and it is only him or any other officer authorized by him that can produce INEC documents.
The respondents affirmed that the petitioners have only come to play away their time and waste the time of the tribunal because they already stated on oath in their petition that they have certified true copies of all documents they are relying upon from INEC.
Counsel to the 2nd Respondent, Onyechi Ikpeazu, SAN, noted while corroborating the position of Alex Izinyon, SAN, who submitted before the tribunal that the petitioners displayed much ado about a non-issue, condemning the sensationalism of newspaper headlines and media propaganda which is the focus of the petitioners rather than the serious business of proving their case.
The subpoena according to Dr. Alex Iziyon is in itself, a flagrant abuse of court process because the same people who are dancing around the subpoena already told the court on oath that they have it.
He said the petitioners are only hammering on the subpoena for the sole purpose of sensationalism in the media space, so as for them to be seen to be doing something before the tribunal even when they know they have a bad case on their hands.
During the cross-examination for the witness called today by the petitioner’s counsel, Adeosun Rasak. Having confirmed his statement, the witness stated in court that the BVAS machine was not used in the 749 units in the just concluded July 16 Osun State gubernatorial election.
He also stated that BVAS was used in his polling unit but not used in the aforementioned units, adding that he did not have a record of proceedings where the second respondent is forging a certificate personally and never worked in any institution he attended.
Adeosun also affirmed that he worked with the first witness, Isiaka Olarewaju, saying that it was a team work.
He added that he didn’t operate the BVAS machine during the election but has some knowledge of the machine.
Thereafter, the tribunal chairman, Justice Tertsea Kume, adjourned the sitting till November 25, 2022, for ruling on the subpoena and continuation of hearing.