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Armed bandits attack Atiku’s witnesses….Forces Tribunal to adjourn

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Jude Johnson

Armed bandits on Friday attacked witnesses of the aptrsidential candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in the February 23 presidential election, Alhaju Atiku Abubakar on their way from Zamfara state to give evidence at the Presidential Election Petition Tribunal.

The witnesses were said yo have been ambushed on the high way and violently attacked to cut their journey to Abuja short.

Lead counsel to Atiku and PDP, Dr. Livy Uzoukwu (SAN), who broke the news to the Tribunal headed by Justice Mohammed Garba disclosed that the witnesses made several phone calls to him on their ordeal.

The senior lawyer said that some of the witnesses claimed yo have jumped out of their busslrs and ran into the bush to escape being killed by the armer men.

The information on the attack came after eight witnesses had testified for Atiku and PDP to the effect that election results were transmitted into the server of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) with the use of short code and smart card readers.

Atiku’s counsel, thereafter pleaded with the Tribunal to shift further hearing in the petition till Monday to enable the petitioners reach out to yhr attacked witnesses.

The Tribunal chairman, Justice Mohammed Garba who sympathised with the witnesses fixed Monday, July 15, for continuation of hearing in the petition in which Atiku is praying for cancellation of the election that produced President Muhammadu Buhari on the ground of irregularities, malpractices and non qualification of Buhari yo have stood for the election.

Earlier, one of the witnesses and adhoc staff of INEC, Olufemi Ogunrinde told the Tribunal that he personally transmitted election results into the server of the electoral body, along with other assistant presiding officers.

The witness admitted that two hours to the election, INEC brought in a consultant who trained them on how yp transmit election results into INEC server with the provided short code and smart card reader.

Answering a question from counsel to INEC, Yunus Usman, the witness also admitted that he was govn guidelines and regulations for the conduct of the election by INEC during their training.

Another witness, Peter Sabo from Yobe state alleged that the APC used the security challenges in the state yo pepertrate electoral fraud.

He alleged that designated centers were used after mobilising voters, contrary to the regulation that voting must be done at the polling units.

Sabo further alleged that hr refused to sign result sheets when he discovered that the number of ballot papers issuer out by INEC was exactly the number of votes cast for APC, without a void one, adding that information latter came on how APC agents freely distributed ballot papers for voters after PDP agents had been chased away.

The witness told the Tribunal that he wrote a petition to the DSS, Police and Civil Defence for the arrest of the identified APC agents that carried out election malpractices, but that nothing was done till date.

Another witness, Hassam Maisarafa, also from Yobs, testified and alleged that civil servants in the state were harrased, intimidated and threatened to institute either vote for APC or lost their jobs.

The witness who named some government officials who carried out the threat further informed the chairman that farmers were harrassed yo chose between voting for APC or forego their farm lands.

Cross examined by counsel yo President Buhari, Yusuf Ali, the witness could not tell the Tribunal the number of farmers threatened by government officials but further alleged that vote buying was order of the day during the election.

Other witnesses who testifies d yesterday for the petitioners are, Husseini Haruna, Zakari Ibrahim, Silas Paris, Usman Adamu and Modu Ahmed.

Meanwhile further hearing in the petition to resume on Monday.


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