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INEC’s choice of counsel at Kaduna Election Tribunal sparks row

Sen. Shehu Sani has accused the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) of hiring a personal lawyer to Gov. Nasiru El-Rufa’i of Kaduna State to represent it at the National and State Assembly Election Petition Tribunal in Kaduna.

Sani (PRP Kaduna Central), who addressed a press conference in Kaduna, on Monday, urged INEC to substitute Mr A U Mustapha, its defence Counsel at the tribunal, alleging conflict of interest.

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“We have enough evidence that A.U Mustapha is a personal lawyer to Nasiru El-Rufa’i, Governor of Kaduna State.

“He is the one representing Gov. El-Rufai in a case of defamation which he filed against me in four courts in Kaduna State.

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“As a personal lawyer to El-Rufa’i now hired by INEC in a case where El-Rufai is a party is not acceptable.

‘’It is suspicious that the governor of the state and INEC are using A.U. Mustapha and Co, who remains El-Rufa’i personal lawyer,’’ the senator said.

Sani is currently challenging INEC at the state Election Tribunal for declaring Uba Sani of the All Progressives Congress, APC, as winner of the Feb. 23 poll in the Kaduna Central Senatorial District.

The petitioner alleged that the election was characterised by massive rigging and other irregularities that placed him third after Lawal Adamu of the Peoples Democratic Party in the just concluded 2019 elections.

However, Alhaji Muhammad Auwal Mashi, INEC Administrative Secretary in Kaduna State, said that INEC’s Legal Department in Abuja was in charge of recruiting or hiring lawyers and not state offices.

Mashi said he was not aware of who the electoral body hired to stand for it at the tribunal in Kaduna.

“Ideally I should not be the one speaking on this, I am not even aware of who INEC hired for any of its cases in the tribunal.

“INEC hires its counsel at the headquarters. “ Mashi said.

Meanwhile, the Senator said neither him nor the PRP would challenge INEC on the matter in court as it would delay the main petition which ought to be concluded within 90 days by the tribunal.(NAN)

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