Presidential poll: Court merges Atiku, Obi, APM’s petitions for hearing May 30…
Written by City Radio on May 24, 2023
Despite objections by the President-elect, Asiwaju Bola Tinubu and the ruling All Progressives Congress, APC, the Presidential Election Petition Court, PEPC, sitting in Abuja, yesterday consolidated the three different petitions seeking to nullify the outcome of the 2023 presidential election.
The court, in its pre-hearing report, said it was empowered by Paragraph 50 of the First Schedule to the Electoral Act, 2022, to merge the petitions since they all related to the same election.
The Justice Haruna Tsammani-led five-member panel said it was satisfied that consolidating and determining the three petitions together would assist it in speedily resolving all the legal issues trailing the presidential election that was held on February 25.
Consequently, it slated May 30 for all the petitioners to open their case, beginning with the candidate of the Labour Party, LP, Mr Peter Obi.
Though Obi, who came third in the election, initially asked for seven weeks to call 50 witnesses and tender evidence to establish that the presidential election was rigged against him, the court, however, said it would only give him three weeks to prove his petition.
The court, which noted that 88 witnesses were billed to appear in Obi’s case, further gave the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, the President-elect and the Vice President-elect, Senator Kashim Shettima, five days each, to present their defence.
Similarly, it gave the 4th respondent in the case, Kabiru Masari, three days to also defend himself. While stressing that all the star witnesses that would be produced by the petitioners would only be allowed to use a maximum of 30 minutes to adopt their written depositions and tender documents where required, the court held that such witnesses would be cross-examined within 20 minutes.
It added that other class of witnesses would present their evidence-in-chief within 10 minutes and be re-examined for five minutes, saying it would engage a timekeeper to ensure strict adherence to the period allotted to each witness.
While directing the registry of the court to issue hearing notices to all the petitioners, Justice Tsammani-led panel gave July 10 as the date for the closure of evidence in the consolidated petitions, just as it fixed August 5 for all the parties to adopt their final briefs of argument to enable it to fix a date for judgement.