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Court advises PDP, LP to consolidate all petitions against Tinubu



The Presidential Election Petitions Court (PEPC) on Saturday directed parties that filed the three surviving petitions before it to consult on their possible consolidation.

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The Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and Alhaji Atiku Abubakar, its presidential candidate, are contesting the results of the presidential election held on February 25 in one of the petitions with the filing number CA/PEPC/05/2023.

The All Progressives Congress (APC) senator Bola Tinubu was proclaimed the victor by INEC.

Sen. Bola Tinubu, INEC, and the APC are named as respondents in the petition.

Other petitions contesting the election’s results were submitted by the Allied Peoples Movement (APM), the Labour Party (LP), and Peter Obi, the party’s presidential candidate.

After the parties involved submitted their suggestions for the procedural modalities to be used, the PEPC panel headed by Justice Haruna Tsammani issued the directive about the consolidation of the petitions in Abuja.

Tsammani gave the parties the go-ahead to consult and determine if the petitions might be combined in accordance with Section 50 of the First Schedule of the Electoral Act.

“Where two or more petitions are presented in relation to the same election or return, all the petitions shall be consolidated, considered, and dealt with as one petition, unless the Tribunal or Court shall direct otherwise in order to do justice or an objection against one or more of the petitions has been upheld by the Tribunal or Court,” states paragraph 50 of the First Schedule of the Electoral Act.

The three remaining petitions were to be consolidated, thus the court postponed the case until Monday so that the parties could return to it.

Chris Uche (SAN), the PDP and Abubakar’s attorney, had earlier told the court that the parties had reached an understanding over the number of witnesses to call as well as the permitted time for the main examination, cross-examination, and re-examination.

He continued by saying that the court would have to approve the deal negotiated.

According to Uche, the parties suggested 30 minutes for evidence-in-chief for star witnesses, with 15 minutes allotted for respondents to cross-examine the witness and 5 minutes allotted for re-examination.

He continued by saying that for other witnesses, 10 minutes would be allocated for the main examination, 10 minutes for the cross-examination, and 5 minutes for the final round of questions.

According to him, the respondents were given 30 minutes for the star witnesses’ main testimony, 30 minutes for the cross-examination, and 5 minutes for the re-examination.

He also urged that none of the other respondents’ witnesses should be subjected to cross-examination.

He further informed the court that, in accordance with the new amendment, parties were aware of time restrictions.

Parties won’t bring more than 100 witnesses, he claims.

The summary provided by Uche was accurate, subject to the court’s instructions, INEC’s attorney Abubakar Mahmoud (SAN) informed the court.

He noted that INEC will call two witnesses and that, in his view, the law’s terms were unambiguous and mandatory unless the court ordered otherwise.

Counsel representing Sen. Tinubu and the APC, Roland Otaru (SAN) and Solomon Umoh (SAN), respectively, provided their own recommendations in their own filings.

Otaru Tinubu requested that star witnesses be ready 48 hours before to presentation and would present 39 witnesses.

He further stated that parties should receive notice of the document schedule prior to the hearing.

He disagreed with Uche, the attorney for Abubakar and the PDP, who had earlier advocated against other respondents being cross-examined during any respondent’s testimony.

He stated that Uche’s proposal would violate the idea of a fair hearing because several parties were each represented by a different attorney.

In a similar vein, Umoh, the attorney representing the APC, informed the court that the party would call 25 witnesses, eliminating those who had been subpoenaed.

He objected to other respondents not conducting a cross-examination of another respondent’s witness after outlining his ideas for allocating time to witnesses.

He asked the court to disregard Uche’s proposal, calling it “unconstitutional” and not deserving of acceptance.

Before making a final decision, the attorneys for Tinubu and the APC informed the court that they would like to speak with their lead counsel.

Oladaily (