Barristers & Solicitors
Edeoga closes cases against Mbah, INEC with 30 witnesses

Candidate of the Labour Party (LP) in the March 18 governorship election in Enugu State, Chijioke Edeoga, who alleged that the election that produced Peter Mbah of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) was rigged, yesterday closed his case.

Edoga is also praying the tribunal to disqualify Mbah over an alleged National Youth Service Corps (NYSC) certificate forgery.

The LP candidate closed his case after he tendered documentary evidence and called 30 witnesses that testified before the Enugu State Governorship Election Petition Tribunal, sitting in Enugu.

Among the exhibits he tendered before the court were polling unit results (form EC8A) in all the areas in contention; ward collation results (form EC8B) in the affected areas and summary of the results as well as the declaration of the results.

The petitioners also tendered, among others, the NYSC produced documents of Oma and Partners; form EC9 of Chijioke Edeoga and Governor Peter Mbah as well as the BVAS machines, which were brought to court by the Resident Electoral Commissioner (REC), who was subpoenaed to appear before the court yesterday. 

Although Edeoga initially told the court that he would call 37 witnesses to testify, he closed his case yesterday with the testimony of the Enugu State Resident Electoral Commissioner (REC), who appeared as the 18th witness for the petitioners.

At the resumed hearing yesterday where the REC was subpoenaed to produce BVAS machines, one of the senior officials of the commission, Victor Okafor, brought only five BVAS machines, as against the number demanded by the petitioners.

Edeoga had applied for a subpoena on the REC to produce the BVAS machines from Owo, Ugbawka 1 Registration Areas of Nkanu East Local Government, as well as some other polling units in Igboeze North Council.

But during cross examination by the petitioner’s counsel, Okafor. who appeared on behalf of the REC, Dr. Chukwuemeka Chukwu said he was mandated to produce five BVAS machines before the tribunal.

He said the information that was generated on the BVAS machines during the governorship election on March 18 was contained in the BVAS report from the headquarters in Abuja.

He said he did not have the BVAS machines for Owo and Ugbawka 1 registration areas of Nkanu East Local Government, adding that the machines could only be identified by their codes.

According to him, the codes of the five BVAS machines brought included 14/08/06/003, 14/08/01/002, 14/08/06/005, 14/08/17/012 and 14/08/01/003. 

“All the machines contained the BVAS and accessories,” he said.

He said he could not operate the BVAS machines beyond the information he earlier gave concerning them because they (machines) had not been used since after the election.

He also did not provide the certified true copies of the BVAS report of the 2023 governorship election polling unit by polling unit as well as that CTC of voters register used in Owo and Ugbawka 1 Registration Areas in Nkanu East Local Government.

The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) counsel, Mr. H. Okoli, applied for a date to open their defence.

The tribunal Chairman, Justice M. K. Akano, adjourned the matter till tomorrow for INEC to open its defence.