Peter Obi “refused” to pay required fees for exhibits’ certification – INEC


The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) has accused the presidential candidate of the Labour Party (LP) and the party of being unwilling to pay the required fees for the certification of the election documents they requested for their petition.

The Commission said their unwillingness to pay the required fees accounted for the delay in the release of the remaining documents in relation to Sokoto and Rivers states.

On Wednesday at the resumed hearing, INEC’s lead lawyer, Abubakar Mahmoud (SAN) expressed his client’s readiness to release the requested documents, once the stipulated fees were paid.

Mahmoud referred to a letter written to him by petitioners’ lawyer, Livy Uzoukwu (SAN) that his clients were not ready to pay the N1.5million requested for the certification of the document in relation to Sokoto State.

He also accused the Labour party team of walking out of a meeting scheduled by parties to sort out documents to be tendered as exhibits in the case.

Earlier, Uzoukwu told the court that INEC was frustrating his clients’ access to the election documents required as exhibits to prosecute their case.

He said he wrote five letters, visited INEC headquarters and even met with INEC Chairman on the issue, to no avail.

He prayed the court to compel INEC to make the documents, including Form EC8A available to the petitioners.

He denied that the petitioners’ team walked out of the meeting as claimed by Mahmoud.

Mr Mahmoud, a SAN, said Mr Obi’s legal team declined to attend a meeting that was called to streamline issues around documents to be tendered before the court.

“We agreed to meet on Monday and Tuesday (15 and 16 May). But on Monday, 15 May, I received a call that the Labour Party legal team had not turned up at the venue for the inspection of the documents,” Mahmoud told the court.

He clarified that LP was given some electoral documents in Rivers, “but they insisted on collecting all the documents that were required.

“The commission has not refused to produce any document,” Mr Mahmoud said.

But Mr Uzoukwu said his team did not stage a walkout from the meeting.

Speaking in the same vein, APC’s lead lawyer, Lateef Fagbemi (SAN), aligned with INEC’s position concerning access to electoral documents.

Mr Fagbemi said he would not object to official documents tendered from INEC during the hearing of the substantive petition.

“All public documents coming from INEC and duly certified will not be objected to, but other documents may be objected to with reasons given and arguments presented at the end of the day before judgment.

“We are ready and willing to cooperate with the court,” Mr Fagbemi assured.

Similarly, Mr Tinubu’s lawyer, Wole Olanipekun, said he had no issues accessing documents from the electoral umpire.

“We will reserve our objection to documents until the end of the trial,” Mr Olanipekun said.

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