Plateau State governorship candidate of the People’s Democratic Party (PDP), Sen. Jeremiah Useni, has told the Governorship Election Petition Tribunal sitting in Jos that the witnesses brought before the tribunal were under security threats.
Useni, through his counsel, Mike Ozekhome (SAN), told the three-man panel that most of his witnesses from the rural villages had been told to testify against the defendants and either remain in Jos or risk their lives and those of their families.
Ozekhome stated this when he called the petitioners’ first witness for the day, Moses Azi Wakili.
Ozekhome said he was compelled to say in the court that his clients’ witnesses were being deliberately and systematically targeted and threatened to withdraw from testifying or go ahead and face “instant death.”
“Some were told that if they must testify, then they should stay back in Jos after testifying and not return to their communities.“
Consequently, two of the seven witnesses (names supplied) scheduled to testify on Thursday changed their mind at the tribunal’s premises and left.
The witness, Azi, repeated his allegation of over-voting in his polling unit in Jos East Local Government Area.
He explained that the original result of his polling unit was contained in the Pink Result Sheet and not the white copy that the respondents’ counsel tried to compel him to read from.
Four more witnesses testified on what they had complained about as criminal over-voting in their respective polling units.
The petitioner further presented 49 more documents and called five more witnesses to strengthen his petition.
The documents, admitted in evidence by tribunal Chairman, Hon Justice H. A. Saleeman, were made up of INEC duplicate and Certified True Copies of Statements of Result (Form EC8A) from Jos North, Shendam and Pankshin LGAs as well as Voters’ Registers for Jos North and Qua’an Pan LGAs.
But Simon Bako Lalong, through his combined team of counsels, Garba S. Pwul, (SAN) and Mr Pius Akubo, (SAN) put up a spirited effort to deprive him from testifying based on a document they said he never mentioned in his witness’ statement.
This was stoutly resisted by Ozekhome, who said: “We have gone pass this stage. Such objections can be brought in their final addresses.”
Hon Justice Saleeman then announced that ruling was reserved for final judgement “so that the tribunal can move forward.”