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Yobe tribunal admits N15m bribe’s exhibits against REC

The Yobe State Governorship Election Petitions Tribunal sitting in Abuja on Thursday admitted as exhibits details of two bank accounts of the Resident Electoral Commissioner of the state, Mr. Abu Zarma, and proof of lodgements of a total sum of N15m into the two accounts some days to the April 11 governorship poll in the state.

The exhibits were tendered by the Peoples Democratic Party and its candidate in the governorship election, Alhaji Adamu Waziri, who accused Zarma of receiving the N15m as bribe from the All Progressives Party's candidate and winner of the poll, Alhaji Ibrahim Gaidam.

Waziri and the PDP, through their joint petition, are challenging the declaration of Gaidam by the Independent National Electoral Commission as the winner of the poll, which they alleged was marred by irregularities and corrupt practices.

The respondents to the petition were Gaidam, the APC, INEC, Yobe State REC and the Assistant Superintendent of Police, Zakari Deba (Aide-de-Camp to Gaidam). Gaidam sought re-election in the April 11 poll as a sitting governor.

The petitioners alleged that the ADC to Gaidam, Zakari Deba, paid N8m into the Diamond Bank account of Zarma and N7m into his Zenith Bank account on the same day.

Both transactions were said to have been carried out on April 8, 2015, whereas the election was held on April 11.

The Justice Mojisola Dada-led tribunal admitted the exhibits through the officials of Diamond Bank Plc and Zenith Bank Plc, who were subpoenaed to the tribunal as witnesses.

Among the exhibits tendered and admitted by the tribunal were documents of Diamond and Zenith banks, including account statements, photocopies of tellers used for the lodgements of the funds and account opening forms, all bearing Zarma's names.

The respondents' lawyers did not oppose the tendering of the exhibits during the Thursday's proceedings, but they said they would reserve their objection to some of them till the stage of filing their final written addresses.

Diamond Bank's employee from Damaturu Branch, Mr. Bamaji Kukawa, while being led by the petitioner's counsel, Mr. Abiodun Owonikoko (SAN), said the bank statement showed that N8m was paid into Zarma's account on April 8 by Deba.

"Before the April 8, 2015 entry, the bank account had N28,143.60k," Kukawa said while responding to a question from Owonikoko.

"The depositor was Zakari Deba," he added while responding to another question.

The witness said on April 13 the statement of account showed that N8m was withdrawn from the account in favour of Saleh & Hanif Company. He said N25, 011.45 was left as balance on the account as of the end of the period covered by the statement.

Also, Head of Operation, Damaturu Branch of Zenith Bank, Mr. Umar Alkali, while also being led by Owonoikoko, said Zakari Deba deposited N7m into Zarma's account with the bank on April 8.

He added that as of the end of the period covered by the statement of account, the account was left with the balance of N1, 345,503.38.

Counsel for Gaidam and the APC, during separate cross-examinations of the witnesses, asked if any of the bank documents tendered had the office of the Resident Electoral Commissioner of Yobe State as the owner of the said bank accounts.

Ali also asked if the photograph of depositor lodging money into an account was required to be captured before carrying out such transaction.

Both the Diamond and Zenith banks employees answered no to both question.

PUNCH
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