The Presidential Election Petition Court (PEPEC), was on Friday told that the major rigging of the 2023 presidential election against the former Vice President, Alhaji Atiku Abubakar, took place at the Ward Collation Centres where agents of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) were allegedly molested and chased away from the centres.
The court was also told that the results of the February 25 presidential election, which emanated from polling units, were fraudulently altered against Atiku and the PDP after their representatives fled collation centres for the safety of their own lives.
Testifying at Friday’s proceedings, the Borno State Collation Agent of the PDP, Mr Nicholas Msheliza, informed the tribunal that agents of the PDP at the ward collation centres were beaten up and chased away, during which results from the polling units were completely changed.
The witness, who was led in his evidence-in-chief by Atiku’s lead counsel, Chris Uche, SAN, accused the officials of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) of breaching the 2022 Electoral Act, by not transmitting the election results electronically as required by law.
The witness who deposed to his witness statement on oath on March 21, described the alleged act of rigging and other electoral malpractices as “real disaster” that was inflicted on the presidential election”.
While answering a question, he said that results from polling units contained in Form EC8A were changed in favour of a particular party.
Responding to Tinubu’s lawyer, Akin Olujimi, SAN, Msheliza admitted that elections were held at polling units with substantial peace, but he, however, claimed that BVAS machines were bypassed at ward collation centers where results were altered and falsified.
The witness, in responding to Olujimi’s further questions, said he did not name polling units in his statement on oath where agents of the PDP were disallowed from performing their functions.
Also testifying, a former House of Representatives member, Hon Sani Idris Kutigi, informed the court that he refused to sign the results sheets in Form EC8D collated results because of the discrepancies in the recorded votes at the polling units and those entered into the form.
The former lawmaker, who claimed that he voted and also acted as Niger State PDP Collation Agent, told the court that the actual results recorded at the polling units were not the ones recorded in the Form EC8D hence, his refusal to endorse the falsified collated results.
Answering a question from Lateef Fagbemi, SAN, counsel to the All Progressives Congress (APC), Kutigi, however, admitted that he did not put the actual figure at the polling units into his witness statement on oath because of lack of space.
The third witness for PDP and Atiku, Silas Joseph Onu, a legal practitioner, alleged in his own evidence that PDP agents were chased out of polling units while some were arrested and locked up in police stations while performing their duties at the collation centers in Ebonyi State.
The legal practitioner said that those falsifying the results had a field day when agents of his party ran away to prevent being killed by criminals engaged by the state apparatus to carry out the election malpractices at all costs.
Based on a request by Atiku’s lawyer, Justice Haruna Simon Tsammani adjourned further hearing in the petition till Monday, June 5.