By Daniel Edu
The ongoing trial concerning alleged election fraud at the Nasarawa state Governorship Election Petition Tribunal (GEPT) witnessed a significant development on Thursday, as Governor A.A. Sule emerged as the first witness for the second respondent’s lead counsel. Ishaq Abubakar Dan’azumi, the witness from Wuse ward and the APC Ward Agent for Awe Local Government Area (LGA), presented a conflicting perspective compared to earlier testimonies. He claimed that the votes for the APC were not decreased, but instead, votes for the PDP were inflated. During cross-examination, Dr. Okutepa, the lead counsel for the PDP, raised questions about Dan’azumi’s endorsement of the ward results. Dan’azumi confirmed the accuracy of his signature and the faithful recording of results from form EC8As to form EC8BS. He also disclosed that the APC had not submitted any petitions regarding vote reduction or additional votes for the PDP. Abdullahi Hashim Danlami, the second witness and the APC Ward Agent for Makwakiji Electoral ward in Awe LGA, testified that the elections were conducted peacefully without any incidents. He expressed concerns about discrepancies in the results of a specific polling unit (PU 005). According to him, APC votes were allegedly reduced while PDP votes were increased. Danlami asserted that he had reported this discrepancy to the INEC Collation officer. He emphasized that regardless of his signature, the results should stand as valid. However, doubts were cast on Danlami’s claim of reporting the incident to the INEC Collation officer at the Ward level during the cross-examination by the PDP Lead Counsel. The absence of this complaint in Danlami’s witness statement was highlighted, implying a potential lack of concrete evidence. It was also revealed that his knowledge of the events at the polling unit relied heavily on verbal information. Abdullahi Jalal Usman, hailing from Akiri ward in Awe LGA, provided testimony confirming the proper use of BVAS Machines and the accurate uploading of results to the IREV platform by INEC. Despite affirming the accuracy, Usman identified errors in the calculation of results for some units, affecting both APC and PDP scores. Nonetheless, Usman commended INEC for its overall conduct. The subsequent cross-examination by the PDP Lead Counsel challenged Usman’s claim of being the APC ward Agent and suggested that his understanding of the results might have been influenced by his lawyer’s courtroom presentation. His credibility was called into question as his knowledge of the actual polling unit events appeared limited. Ahmed Abubakar Sarki, a witness from Keffi LGA, corroborated the use of BVAS Machines and the uploading of results to IREV. He alleged that the results from two polling units, Angwan Nupawa 006 and Angwan Yorubawa 017, showed alterations, including a decrease in APC votes and an increase in PDP votes. However, his verbal testimony contradicted his written statement. Kassim Tonko Kassim’s testimony followed a similar pattern, citing changes in APC and PDP votes in Angwan Kwara of Angwan Rimi, Keffi LGA. He admitted to lacking concrete evidence of his role as an APC Agent for the mentioned units, raising doubts about his credibility. He also noted the absence of pink copies of the results. Representing Yara ward of Keffi LGA, Abdullahi Al-Kassim highlighted discrepancies between EC8AS and EC8BS results. He appealed to the tribunal to rectify the allegedly manipulated votes, implicating both APC and PDP. However, doubts arose regarding his agent status, as his name and signature did not match the official records of the polling unit.
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