BREAKING: Presidential Tribunal Gives Obi, Atiku, Others Deadline To Prove Case Against Tinubu
The Presidential Election Petitions Court sitting in Abuja on Tuesday read out its pre-hearing report on petitions challenging the victory of Bola Ahmed Tinubu of the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) in the February 25 presidential election.
At the sitting, the panel directed the presidential candidate of the Labour Party, Peter Obi, to prove his case against Tinubu within 3 weeks beginning from May 30, 2023, a day after the latter must have been sworn-in into office.
Conclusion of the pre-hearing sessions will pave the way for main hearing of all cases challenging the 2023 presidential election.
There are three petitioners before the tribunal namely, Peter Obi and Labour party, Atiku Abubakar and Peoples Democratic party; as well as the Allied Peoples Movement.
Recall that Obi’s legal team led by Dr Livy Uzoukwu SAN had sought for seven weeks to present witnesses, citing the Independent National Electoral Commission’s delay in cooperating and availing them with materials used for the election.
On the Petition of Labour Party and Peter Obi against INEC, Tinubu, Kashim Shettima and the APC, the five-man panel of the court chaired by Justice Haruna Tsammani brought down Obi’s request for 7 weeks to 3 weeks.
The Tribunal took the decision since the parties failed to agree on what issues to be streamlined by the court.
INEC was given five days (21 June to June 29) to bring witnesses while APC were given five days to present witnesses.
The court also ordered that every other evidence from parties must be brought in and concluded by July while parties will adopt their final address in August.
Furthermore, despite the opposition by lawyers representing Tinubu and APC, the tribunal consolidated the petitions of Obi, Atiku Abubakar and Allied Peoples Movement into one petition since they are all challenging the outcome of the election.
Speaking to newsmen after the court’s directive, Obi’s lawyer, Livy Uzoukwu, said the important thing was that the court has a discretion to determine the weeks parties should use to call witnesses.
“What we have to do is to do case management, Livy said adding that what INEC is doing to them by not making electoral documents available “is very unfortunate.”
“INEC is playing pranks and confusing the people. At no time did we say we cannot pay. We wrote letters to INEC indicating that we are ready to pay to collect the document. Why are they telling lies to say that we couldn’t pay?” Uzoukwu said debunking INEC’s claim that LP refused to pay requisite fees.
“What of the documents that we have collected. Didn’t we pay for them? They gave us those ones but refused to give us others,” he said.
He alleged that INEC was holding on to electoral materials for manipulation purposes, adding that when the hearing begins, he would subpoena the Commission to produce the electoral materials.
For the Allied Peoples Movement, the tribunal ordered that they have one day to call their witness (one) while hearing commences on May 30.
For Atiku Abubakar, the Tribunal ordered his lawyers to produce his 100 witnesses within 3 weeks (May 30 – Jun 20), while INEC, Tinubu, APC has 5 days to bring in their defence.
The court repeated its order on consolidation, saying all petitions should be collapsed into one.
Regarding the consolidated petition, the Tribunal held that in order to save time, there shall be no need for oral examination of witnesses but that those witnesses will just adopt their written statement except for experts who would be required to speak on evidence.