By Wilson Adekumola
One of the witnesses of the candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party, Alhaji Atiku Abubakar, identified as Capt. Joe Agada (retd.) has explained to the Presidential Election Petition Court sitting in Abuja on Thursday, how he was forced to sign the election results.
Atiku and his party who came second in the 2023 general elections, are challenging the declaration of President Bola Tinubu of the ruling All Progressives Congress, as winner by the Independent National Electoral Commission.
According to The PUNCH, the first witness of Atiku, Agada, at the resumption of proceedings of court, informed the court that he served as the State Collation Agent of the PDP in Kogi State, during the general election.
The witness, told the court that he was forced to sign result of the presidential election by officials of the Independent National Electoral Commission.
Agada stated that the INEC officials said they would not give him a copy of the result to take back to his party if he refused to sign.
Led in evidence by Atiku’s lead counsel, Chief Chris Uche, SAN, the witness, maintained that result of the presidential election in Kogi State, was rigged.
The witness told the court that in over 20 polling units he visited, he observed how the Bimodal Voter Accreditation System machines, were manipulated
Agada said, “My lords, apart from where I voted, which was at Ogene- Oforachi village in Ogugu Ward in Kogi State, I also served as my party’s State Collation Agent.
“I had a tag and a vehicle with a sticker that identified me as being on election duty. The exemption tag which was issued to me by INEC, allowed me to move around on the election day.
“I had the opportunity of visiting some highlighted polling units in my LGA, even though I did not visit all the polling units.”
On cross-examination by counsel for the Independent National Electoral Commission, Mr. Abdullahi Aliyu, SAN, the witness said it would be correct to say that he observed all the manipulations that took place in Kogi state during the election.
“My lords, I am a witness of truth. I did not visit all the polling units but I was present when BVAS in over 20 PUs were being manipulated across the two Senatorial Districts that I visited.
“I may not be exact, but there are nothing less than 3500 polling units in Kogi State.
“I spent between three to five minutes in each of the polling units that I visited,” the witness added.
Asked if agents of the PDP signed the result sheets, the witness, said, “Yes, our agents signed the Forms EC8A, EC8B and EC8C.
“But they were forced to sign the results, especially in Kogi state, because INEC said they would not give us copies unless we signed.”
Answering questions from one of the lawyers that appeared for President Tinubu, Chief Akin Olujinmi, SAN, the witness, said the PDP had agents in all the polling units in the state.
Asked if as the State Collation Agent of the PDP, he signed the result sheet, he said, “My lords, I was forced to sign the state collection result because without signing, they said they would deny me a copy to take to my party.
“I thereafter protested and also wrote a petition to INEC,” the witness told the court, even as he admitted that he served as State Collation Agent for the PDP in 2015 and also appeared as a witness in the 2019 presidential election dispute between Atiku and former President Muhammadu Buhari.
“In 2015, I refused to sign the result. But at that time, INEC did not deny me a copy to take to my party. But this year, the INEC man insisted that they would not give me a copy unless I signed the result,” Capt. Agada, retd, added.