The Presidential Election Petitions Court sitting in Abuja has adjourned the pre-hearing session involving Peter Obi of the Labour Party, the Independent National Electoral Commission, and the President-elect, Bola Tinubu.
The adjournment followed counter accusations between the respective counsels for Obi and INEC regarding inability of the LP candidate’s lawyers to gain access to election materials need for the proceedings.
While Obi’s lawyers accused INEC of failing to avail them with the election materials in line with court orders, the commission’s lawyer told the 5-man panel of the presidential tribunal that Obi’s team refused to pay the required fees to access the materials.
Recall that the court had on May 10, after agreement by lawyers to different parties, ordered them to meet and agree on documents relevant to the case as well as file in all their processes and replies before today, May 17.
But at the resumed pre-hearing on Wednesday, Obi and LP’s lead counsel, Livy Uzoukwu SAN informed the court that his team’s meeting with INEC on Tuesday did not yield positive results.
Quoting Uzoukwu, “deep regret, we wish to say that up till now INEC is yet to give us 70 percent of all the documents they promised to give us.”
Citing Rivers State as an instance, he said the Resident Electoral Commissioner told him boldly that they do not have any Form EC8A to give his legal team.
Uzoukwu added that his team also met with lawyers representing Tinubu and the All Progressives Congress, who said they have only some.
Reacting, Counsel for INEC, Abubakar Mahmoud, denied the allegation made in open court by Uzoukwu.
He accused the LP team of not attending the meeting at the agreed time but rather chose to walk on them.
On the electoral materials from Rivers State, the INEC lawyer accused Labour Party of refusing to pay N1.5 million fee required to access them.
He added that some documents have been provided to LP but they refused to collect them, insisting the documents must be complete.
Following non-adherence to the earlier order of the court, the five-man panel led by Justice Haruna Tsammani fixed Friday for further pre-hearing on the case.