Labour Party (LP) and its candidate, Peter Obi, yesterday, accused the Chairman of the Independent National Electoral Commission(INEC), Prof. Yakubu Mahmood of refusing to accept a subpoena issued on him to produce some vital documents used for the February 25 election before the Presidential Election Petition Court (PEPC). The accusations which did not go down well with the legal team to the electoral umpire,  gave rise to blame games between the petitioners and INEC at yesterday’s proceeding. It all started when the lead counsel to the petitioners, Livy Uzoukwu, informed the court that he was yet to get all the documents for his case and that INEC Chairman has refused to accept a subpoena from the bailiff of the court in that regard. He, however, disclosed that an agreement has been reached between him and INEC lead counsel for the subpoena (court summon) to be served on any member of his team. “My lord, I drew the attention of INEC lead counsel, Abubakar Mahmoud, to the failure of the office of the INEC Chairman, to accept the service of a subpoena to produce more electoral documents despite the efforts of the bailiffs of this court. He (Mahmoud) graciously asked me to give him a copy of the subpoena but I did not have an extra copy to give him now and he asked me to give it to any member of his team,” he said. But the senior lawyer, however, assured me he would send a copy to the INEC legal team after today’s proceedings.“I am confident that he will do the needful for us to continue tomorrow,” Uzoukwu said while requesting for adjournment. However, another senior lawyer in the commission’s legal team,  Oluwakemi Pinheiro, countered Uzoukwu, saying it had become a habit that when the petitioners want to seek an adjournment, they blame his client. “It cannot be true that a subpoena to be served on the INEC chairman was refused,” Pinheiro said, adding that in the Peoples Democratic party’s case, subpoenas were served on the INEC chairman and it was not refused. The question of deliberately refusing service is not correct.”Pinheiro told the court that the INEC chairman has no interest in Obi’s petition. He said rather than the Obi’s legal team outrightly asking for an adjournment over their inability to conduct their case, they are throwing blame. “This is two weeks and he has only called three witnesses out of the 50 witnesses they said they would call,” Pinheiro said. Uzoukwu expressed shock at what Pinheiro said. According to him, he made it clear that the bailiff of the court could not serve the INEC Chairman with the subpoena. He asked the INEC lawyer and the court to verify his assertion from the bailiff of the PEPC. In a quick intervention, the court asked the senior lawyers to coordinate themselves because their conduct serve as examples to “junior lawyers” that accompany them to the proceedings. Justice Haruna Tsammani told parties that he has been observing that lawyers representing Obi and INEC have been denigrating each other since the proceedings commenced.“ If there is anything that INEC is doing, you know what to do,” Justice Tsammani told Uzoukwu.In a bid to calm their nerves, the panel told lawyers to “calm your tempers”  reminding them that whatever direction, the outcome of the case would go “we are still friends.”At the commencement of proceedings, yesterday,  another counsel to the petitioners,  Audu Anuga, tendered as evidence several blurry polling unit results downloaded from the INEC Results Viewing Portal, IRev, and INEC certified but which are not linked to any Local Government Area. He also tendered certified IREV reports for Gombe and Kaduna State as well as IREV certificates of compliance for seven states, excluding Akwa Ibom. Continuing, he tendered duly certified Bimodal Voter Accreditation System (BVAS) reports and certificates of compliance for 28 states including the Federal Capital Territory. All the documents were opposed by INEC as well as the legal team of President Tinubu, Kashim Shettima and APC. The petitioners have so far, presented three witnesses, including a lawyer (who spoke on a US District Court judgement on Tinubu’s bank account), a Senior Reporter/Editor, Lucky Ukpewo from Channels Television as well as a software engineer to substantiate alleged non-compliance to the Electoral Act by INEC.

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