The governorship election petitions tribunal sitting in Ilorin, Kwara state Thursday adjourned to May 22, 2019 to enable the Independent National Electoral Commission(INEC) produce before it documents in its custody about the educational qualifications of the governorship candidate of the All Progressives Congress (APC) in the March 9 election in Kwara state, Alhaji AbdulRahman AbdulRazaq.
The tribunal had on Wednesday commenced pre- trial hearing on two petitions from the Peoples Democratic Party and its governorship candidate, Barr. Razak Atunwa; and Action Alliance (AA) challenging the electoral victory of the APC’s candidate in the election.
At the resumed pre – trial hearing Thursday, the tribunal after listening to argument and counter argument by counsels on the authentic of the WAEC certificate submitted to INEC by the APC’s candidate fixed May 22,2019 for continuation of pre – trial hearing and to enable INEC produce documents in its custody before it.
Counsel to PDP candidate in the elections, Kingsley Odeh, continued his argument over authenticity of the WAEC certificate presented to INEC by the governor-elect for the election.
However, Salman Jawondo, counsel to the second respondent, who is the governor-elect, Alhaji Abdulrahman Abdulrazaq, had tendered photocopy of WAEC certificate of another person to the tribunal to show that names or initials of candidates can be abbreviated.
The PDP’s counsel argued that West African Examination Council (WAEC) does not abbreviate surname, even if it were to abbreviate first names.
Odeh, who identified “conflict” in the documents tendered by Jawondo, said that the governor-elect submitted a WAEC certificate with Razaq A.P in 2109 and a document which reads Razaq A.R. in 2014.
“That’s the conflict”, he said, adding that the photocopy of WAEC certificate tendered by Jawondo was General Education certificate of WAEC and not that of the Senior Secondary School Examination certificate of WAEC.
Speaking with journalists after the tribunal’s sitting, counsel to the INEC, Rowland Otaru SAN, said that the petitioner got it wrong to put initials of the governor-elect as A.P.
“What the petitioners were saying in their pleadings is that Abdulrazaq A.P., but initials of the governor elect is not even A.P. It is A.R. So, even from the body of their petition, they are even wrong. We now want to show that the certificate of the governor elect is genuine, valid and issued by WAEC. With due respect, they are just playing to the gallery. The photocopy brought was to show the court that it’s not wrong for names of candidates to have initials. The court then asked for the original of the certificate to be brought in order to compare it with the photocopy tendered. And so be it”, he said.
Otaru, who said he did not give consent to declaration of results documents presented by the petitioner on Thursday, said that the onus was on them to prove. “In the fullness of time, we are going to canvass very strong argument in respect of documents which they seemed to tender”, he said.
However, counsel to the PDP’s candidate and the PDP, Kingsley Odeh, said that it was actually the governor-elect’s counsel that tendered bundle of evidences containing second respondent’s certificate that was submitted alongside other documents.
“The photocopy of certificate actually submitted for 2019 elections reads Razaq AP. Now, in their response, they have annexed another document, a certificate he actually submitted in 2014 general elections. That document reads Razaq A.R. So, they’ve actually aided our case. They’ve made everything simple. It shows clearly that in 2019 they submitted a document with Razaq A.P. and in 2014 they submitted a document which reads Razaq A.R. That’s the conflict.
“For the purpose of clarity, WAEC does not abbreviate surname, even if it were to abbreviate first names. Razaq A.P. and Razaq A.R. can mean that any other person can claim the abbreviation. In his age declaration that was attached to the documents like INEC voters card, testimonial from secondary school in Kaduna, all those documents bear his full names, Abdulrahman Abdulrazaq. There was no where his name was abbreviated.
“On pleadings by INEC, which is a custodian of the documents that were pleaded, the counsel does not even have them in court. The INEC counsel was also objecting to his documents tendered by the petitioner, which is a declaration of result. He refused to give his consent to the documents. What they are hiding would be revealed during trial, to show that the petitioner had made out case for themselves. You cannot tender two contradictory documents. That’s why in our second ground of petition we are saying that the second respondent gave false information containing his affidavit submitted to INEC in aid of his educational qualification”, he said.