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PRESIDENTIAL POLLS: PDP STALWARTS STORM TRIBUNAL FOR JONATHAN

By NBF News
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The Presidential Election Tribunal was yesterday invaded by a high-powered delegation of the ruling Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) led by its Acting National Chairman, Alhaji Kawu Baraje, expressing confidence that President Goodluck Jonathan would emerge victorious at the tribunal.

They arrived the court just on time to witness the withdrawal of the motion exparte filed by the Congress for Progressive Change (CPC) seeking to issue a subpoena on the Chairman of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), Prof. Attahiru Jega.

The CPC is challenging the victory of President Jonathan and his PDP on the grounds that the election was manipulated in his favour. But the PDP delegation claimed that both the president and the party had a good case to counter the CPC petition and render it baseless to ensure a free and fair judicial victory.

Fielding questions from newsmen on behalf of the delegation, Barage said members of PDP nationwide and even worldwide were confident that the election of the president by Nigerians would be upheld by the tribunal because the April presidential election was free and fair and without any form of rigging.

He said they in the PDP had never lost their sleep since the petition was filed because of their conviction that Nigerians freely gave their mandate to the president.

Members of the delegation were the immediate past national chairman of the party and now Minister of Defence, Dr. Mohammed Haliru Bello, Minister of Interior, Mr. Abba Moro, Minister for the Federal Capital Territory (FCT), Senator Bala Mohammed, Minister of Police Affairs, Elder Caleb Olubolade and PDP National Legal Adviser, Chief Olusola Oke.

Barage disclosed that PDP had taken a critical look into the petition and saw nothing that could warrant the cancellation of the election he insisted was free, fair and best.

'We have not been coming to the court since but I can tell you that from now, you will begin to see everyday a high-powered delegation of PDP in this court to witness and monitor proceeding.

'On the strength of our party we are confident of victory. We have no fear. We are ever positive and we are never pessimistic about the petition. We are confident because we in PDP know that we have a good case on that election because we did not rig. At any rate, whenever we have case, we are always in good position to present a good case because we believe in the judiciary and in the rule of law.

'Our appearance in this tribunal today sends a signal that PDP, the members and indeed, the whole Nigerians who voted President Jonathan into office are confident of victory.

'In fact, as you see us today, you will see different faces of our members tomorrow to give solidarity and support to our legal team doing a good job in this court on behalf of our party.'

Meanwhile, the CPC yesterday withdrew its exparte application seeking to issue subpoena on INEC Chairman, Prof. Jega.

Counsel to CPC, Oladipo Opkeseyi (SAN) explained that the withdrawal of the exparte motion was informed by an agreement reached by all counsel to the effect that the subpoena should be issued on the chairman of INEC, not in his personal capacity.

Based on the said understanding, the director of Legal Services of the commission would accept service on behalf of the chairman and 'do the needful.'

Consequently, the petitioner's counsel applied to withdraw the exparte application, which was changed to motion on notice and accordingly served on counsel to INEC, Chief Onyechi Ikpeazu (SAN) in court.

While ruling on the application for withdrawal, Justice Kumas Akaas said, 'the exparte application dated September 15 and filed on the September 16, is hereby withdrawn and struck out. I hereby hold that the subpoena be withdrawn and served on the chairman, which shall be accepted by counsel on behalf of the director of Legal Services.'

The CPC called seven witnesses yesterday, with PW 39, Mr. James Egem Ogeh from Cross River State saying, 'that each voter that comes into a polling unit or booth to cast his/her vote was offered between N500 and N1000 by agents of the 3rd respondent who stationed themselves at each unit and in a very menacing manner which created an atmosphere of fear and intimidation to those who did not likely to succumb to their solicitation.'

Hearing continues today.