Monday, September 12, 2011

Presidential election tribunal: Buba Galadima of CPC admitted his party rigged election

The Presidential Election Petition Tribunal, sitting in Abuja, on Monday disqualified the National Chairman of the Congress for Progressive Change (CPC), Tony Momoh, as a witness in the party's petition challenging the election of President Goodluck Jonathan in the last April poll, just as an official of the party admitted that it rigged the election in the states he won.

Mr Momoh was disqualified by the tribunal following a mixed up in the witness statement of oath of the chairman and that of the national secretary, Buba Galadima.

Mr Galadima, while in the witness box, admitted that his party rigged the April presidential election in the states it won, stressing that before the April general election CPC had no elective offices as governors, senators, members of the House of Representatives, members of the state Houses of assembly, as well as local government chairmen and counsellors.

The party secretary, who was cross-examined by Wole Olanipekun, counsel to President Jonathan and Namadi Sambo, also affirmed that before the presidential election, he had never been a guest or a visitor to Aso Rock presidential Villa.

Mr Galadima however insisted that the ballot papers used by Independent National Election Commission (INEC) was printed in Nigeria and that one Tulip Press was the printer that produced the tendered ballot paper as well as the ones used for the presidential election proper.

Answering questions from the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) lawyer, Joe Gadzama, Mr Galadima admitted that he registered and voted in Abuja and that they were going about monitoring elections as party officials accredited by INEC to do so.

CPC however withdrew Mr Momoh as one of its witnesses in the petition when he came into the witness box. The application to withdraw Mr Momoh's statement on oath came when the petitioner, through its counsel, Abubakar Malami, admitted that there was a mixed up in the statements as deposed by both Messrs Momoh and Galadima.

The drama started when Mr Momoh identified his signature and adopted his statement on oath before the tribunal, but could not account for some newspaper publications attributed to him.

Mr Malami requested that the witness in Pw 1, Galadima be interchanged with Pw 2, Momoh and to call Pw 1 back. Mr Olanipekun, while opposing the application of CPC's counsel, said this means interchanging witness and interchanging evidence. "You cannot challenge the record of a court before that court," he said. "The record is an accurate reflection of what transpired in court today. When he said his first witnesses will be page 17 to 55 and not the one he is talking about now. Earlier he said the witness is not around and later said he is around." The panel therefore adjourned till Tuesday to continue with the hearing of the matter. The panel also adjourned till Wednesday to hear an application filed by CPC seeking to call additional witnesses.

In a brief ruling, the presiding chairman, Kumai Akaahs, refused the application by CPC to substitute their witness statement and urged the respondents to abridge their constitutional right of seven days and file their reply latest by Tuesday.

The CPC filed a petition at the tribunal to challenge the result of the April presidential poll, alleging irregularities and non-compliance with the 2010 electoral act.

The party is contesting the result of the election in about 20 states of the federation and are to call 151 witnesses to prove its case.

Joined as defendants in the suit are the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), 1st defendant; chairman of INEC, Attahiru Jega (2nd defendant); winner of the election and Nigerian president, Goodluck Jonathan (3rd defendant); his deputy, Namadi Sambo (4th defendant); the Peoples Democratic Party (5th defendant) and the Resident Electoral Commissioners for the 36 states, including the Federal Capital Territory, (6th-42nd respondent).


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