Abuja — The Chairman of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), Prof Mahmood Yakubu, yesterday failed to show up at the Presidential Election Petition Tribunal as ordered by the tribunal.
But INEC finally produced documents demanded by the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and its presidential candidate in the last general election, Alhaji Atiku Abubakar, to prove their claims in the petition challenging the declaration of President Muhammadu Buhari of the All Progressives Congress (APC) as winner of the election.
Yakubu was on Wednesday ordered by the tribunal to appear before it unfailingly yesterday to show cause why INEC had not given the petitioners the documents.
He was to appear along with the Resident Electoral Commissioner in Zamfara State, having been subpoenaed by the tribunal to present some of the documents used in the conduct of the February 23 presidential election.
However at about 11.50a.m. when the tribunal stood down the Peoples Democratic Movement's (PDM's) proceedings to prepare ruling in an application, neither Yakubu nor the Zamfara REC was in court.
The counsel to PDP and Atiku, Chief Chris Uche (SAN), however, drew the court's attention to the directive made on Wednesday regarding the subpoena order on the INEC boss.
"Is the chairman here now? Justice Garba asked counsel to INEC, Yunus Usman (SAN), in response to Uche's observation.
Usman, however, assured the tribunal that they were working round the clock and that before noon they would comply with the court's order.
At the end of proceedings in the PDM's petition, Uche again reminded the tribunal that the INEC boss was yet to appear in court.
But Usman told the tribunal that the order of the court was to the "effect that documents should be produced, not that any person should appear before the tribunal."
He further told Justice Garba that the order of the tribunal has been fully complied with - with the tendering of the subpoenaed documents.
The documents, which were brought to court, were accompanied by a written letter to the chairman of the tribunal.
Uche while commending Usman for the efforts, however requested for a copy of the letter to enable him to ascertain if the documents were complete and were the same as the ones requested for.
Justice Garba had issued the order summoning Yakubu and the Zamfara REC on Wednesday following complaints by Atiku that his petition against the election of Buhari was being sabotaged by the INEC chief due to his refusal to appear before the tribunal to tender some unnamed documents.
Atiku through Uche had complained to the tribunal that Yakubu and the Zamfara REC had been frustrating him in the 10-day hearing notice given to him by the tribunal to substantiate his allegations and claims in his petition jointly filed with the PDP.
The petitioners had filed two applications on July 9 seeking an order of court to compel the INEC chairman to appear before the tribunal and present certain documents listed by the petitioners and the Zamfara REC to produce the election results for Zamfara State in the presidential poll.
While that summons on the chairman was served on him on July 15, the Zamfara REC got his on July 12.
Uche on resumption of proceedings on Wednesday, had said the commission was yet to respond to the tribunal's subpoena served on the chairman and the Zamfara REC.
Responding, Usman told the tribunal that he was not aware of the subpoena on Yakubu but that of the Zamfara REC had been complied with.
He added that they were waiting for the petitioners to pay the normal fee and collect the said documents.
But in a short ruling, Justice Garba had held that orders of court are sacrosanct and must be obeyed.