El-Rufai vs Ashiru: INEC closes defence after one witness

Second term: El-Rufai promises to put people’s interest first
Governor eL Rufai
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The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) on Thursday in Kaduna, presented one witness and closed its case in the petition before the State Governorship Election Petition Tribunal.

INEC, the 1st respondent in the petition of the Peoples Docratic Party (PDP), had earlier assembled 10 witnesses for its defence.

The PDP and its Governorship candidate in the March 9 election, Alhaji Isah Ashiru are challenging the return of Gov. Nasiru El-Rufai of the All Progressive Alliance (APC) as winner of the election.

The Justice Ibrahim Bako-led Tribunal had on July 15, adjourned to Thursday for INEC to open its defence, after failing to do so on Monday.

The petitioners had closed their case after presenting 135 witnesses to prove alleged mass rigging, ballot stuffing and violence recorded during the poll.

INEC at the time. said it would present 10 witnesses in its defence with nine being the commission’s staff.

However, on Monday, counsel to the commission, Mr Aliyu Umar (SAN), informed the tribunal that they could not open defence as most of their witnesses were attending 2019 INEC election review conference in Abuja and asked that the commission be given up to Thursday, July 18 to open its defence.

Bako accepted the request and fixed hearing to July 18 for INEC to call its witnesses and close by Friday, July 19.

However, at the resumed hearing of the tribunal on Thursday, INEC opened defence with presentation of volumes of documents used for the March 9 governorship poll.

The commission afterwards presented one witness, Malam Ibrahim Umar, INEC’s deputy director operations in the state and closed its case after cross examination.

The lead counsel told newsmen during an interview that the documents and one witness presented were sufficient for the defence.

Umar said the witness who was cross examined by the petitioners had provided responses that covered most of the issues in the petition.

Meanwhile, the tribunal adjourned to July 19, for the 2nd respondent, Gov. Nasiru El-Rufai to open his defence.