TRACKING >Prosecution Witness 23 in the ongoing hearing of a petition filed against the February 23 election which produced President Muhammadu Buhari, yesterday, told the Presidential Election Petitions Tribunal sitting in Abuja that all the results sheets in Borno State were mutilated to favour Buhari and his party, the All Progressives Congress (APC).
Presidential candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Atiku Abubakar and his party had approached the tribunal to challenge the outcome of the election.
The witness, who was collation agent for the PDP, Nicholas Msheliza, added that virtually all the result sheets from the various local governments in the state were mutilated.
He equally stated that there was zero accreditation of voters in over 200 polling units out of the 3,933 statutory polling units in the state.
He further told the tribunal that there were a total of 5,078 voting points, including the polling units.
Msheliza also said the total votes of 911,786, declared by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), was well over the accredited voters across the state.
Under cross examination, when asked to reconcile the seeming contradiction between his claim that the results were already collated before he got to the collation centre and his deposition that he observed when the figures were being tendered, the witness said: “They were merely announcing the results to the hearing of people present.”
When asked if he visited the polling units in the state as the state collation officer for the PDP, he said: “I could not have visited the polling units because of the peculiar security challenges in Borno State.”
However, Prosecution Witness 21, Jafaru Usman, who served as the PDP’s local government collation agent for Zaria, Kaduna State, told the Tribunal that results in his area were rigged in favour of the APC.
But the witness, who is a lawyer, said he signed the Form EC8C, the local government area result sheets, not as authentication of what was contained in it, but as a mere witness.
Under cross-examination, Usman said the polling unit results contained in Forms EC8A ought to be transmitted to the ward result sheets, Forms EC8B, and then transmitted to Form EC8C, which is the local government result sheet, but that was not the case in his area.
“The correct results were not transmitted,” Usman said.
But when asked if he signed the Form EC8C, he said: “I signed in line with the provision of the Electoral Act.
“I signed it, but I did not authenticate what was contained in it. I only signed as a witness in line with the Electoral Act.
“What I signed was not a contract.
“All those who were in attendance were required to sign in line with Electoral Act.”
Asked if any of those who perpetrated the rigging were convicted in court, he said, “I made complaints, they did nothing.”
Prosecution Witness 24, John Makama, who served as the PDP’s collation agent in Sanga Local Government Area of Kaduna State, in his own testimony, said the results of the poll in the stronghold of his party were cancelled by INEC officials.
He alleged in his evidence-in-chief that the election in Sanga Local Government Area of Kaduna State was marred by illegal cancellation of votes.
Under cross-examination by the respondents’ counsel, Makama said the results were cancelled in his presence at the local government collation centre by the INEC’s local government collation officer and not at the polling units where the election took place.
He said: “It is an aberration that results from wards and polling units were cancelled.
“The election held at the polling units, but the cancellations happened at the local government collation centre.
“The results from the petitioners’ stronghold were illegally cancelled. It is an open fact that political parties have stronghold where they are dominant.”
He said of the 11 wards in Sanga Local Government Area, the APC was only strong in three.
Still under cross examination, Makama could not find an answer when told that cancellation of results in Sanga Local Government Area was not part of the case presented by the petitioners in their petition.
Other witnesses are Major Yahaya Sikko, Dr. AbdulRaman Usman, Khalid Yelwa Kugo and Adam Ali Sanni.
Sikko, in his evidence-in-chief on the alleged election malpractices in Kaduna State, told the tribunal that wrong figures were accredited to Buhari and APC, making him to refuse to sign the result sheet as required by law.
The witness told the tribunal that in his presence results were doctored by APC agents with full backing of security personnel.
Answering a question from Buhari’s counsel, Wole Olanipekun (SAN), the witness said that he protested against the wrongdoings at the collation centre, but was ignored.
He, however, admitted that accreditation was done by smart card reader.
Dr. AbdulRaman Usman, in his own testimony, alleged that form EC8A were not made available to agents of the petitioners as required by law and thereby making him not to sign form EC8C being the result for Kaduna North Local Government because of his objection to the wrongful entries made for the APC.
Also testifying, Adams Ali Sanni admitted that he did not sign results sheets as agents of the petitioners because results were altered in his presence while votes cast for Atiku and PDP were reduced also in his presence.
He alleged that apart from unlawful cancellation of results, PDP agents were chased away by thugs loyal to the APC to allow free falsification of results in favour of Buhari.
Another witness from Bauchi State, Yau Yusuf, in attesting to claim of rigging, harassment and intimidation of voters, said election results was torn by a particular agent of the APC in the presence of INEC officials at INEC headquarters and yet nothing was done.
He claimed that the results announced by INEC were a reproduced copy, adding that the police took the torn copy with a promise to prosecute the perpetrator.
The petitioners at yesterday’s hearing called seven witnesses, increasing the number of witnesses called so far to 28.
The tribunal has adjourned till today for continuation of hearing.