Tuesday, April 23, 2024

Nigeria: Atiku, Tinubu List Witnesses As Presidential Election Court Hearing Reaches Critical Stage

Atiku’s case against Mr Tinubu’s election is set to enter a critical stage of trial, after about two weeks of pre-hearing sessions. They listed the witnesses they would call during trial on Saturday.

The presidential candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) Atiku Abubakar says he intends to call 100 witnesses to prove his case against Bola Tinubu’s victory as Nigeria’s president-elect.

Mr Tinubu also says he is prepared to defend his victory with 39 witnesses in Atiku’s case – one of the three petitions challenging the president-elect’s success at the 25 February presidential election.

The lawyers to the parties gave the outlook of the make-up of their witnesses at the Presidential Election Court in Abuja on Saturday.

The proceedings of the court are set to enter critical stage of trial, after about two weeks of pre-hearing sessions.

With Mr Tinubu’s inauguration as Nigeria’s next president only about nine days away, the trial is expected to stretch months into his presidency. The entire election petition litigation may not end until December as aggrieved parties still have the right to challenge the outcome of the ongoing proceedings at the Supreme Court.

Atiku is challenging INEC’s declaration of All Progressives Congress (APC)’s Mr Tinubu as winner of the last presidential election.

Atiku, a former Nigerian Vice President, accused the electoral umpire and Mr Tinubu of violating statutory provisions that guided the conduct of the recent election.

Two other petitions, one of which is by the Labour Party and its presidential candidate, Peter Obi, also levelled similar allegations in calling for a fresh election.

At the resumed proceedings of the Presidential Election Petition Court on Saturday, Atiku’s lead counsel, Chris Uche, a Senior Advocate of Nigeria (SAN), reeled out the agreements of parties to the suit concerning the number of witnesses to be called, the allotted time for witnesses to testify and the procedures for tendering documents from expert witnesses.

“We intend to call not more than one hundred witnesses. For the time, we want to take three weeks instead of the statutory seven weeks,” Mr Uche said. “We have also agreed to streamline the number of witnesses as well as the duration for each party to call witnesses, subject to ratification by the court.”

Duration for witnesses to testify

Mr Uche said lawyers to parties in the petition agreed the star witnesses for both the petitioners and respondents would have 30 minutes each to testify.

“We are proposing 30 minutes each for star witnesses, while we are proposing 15 minutes for each respondents for cross-examination and five minutes for re-examination.”

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He revealed that other witnesses would take 10 minutes for cross-examination, while re-examination of witnesses would take dive minutes.

Tinubu to present 39 witnesses

At the pre-hearing session on Saturday, Mr Tinubu’s lawyer, Roland Otaru, a SAN, said his client would present 39 witnesses to aid his defence at the court.

Mr Otaru said Mr Tinubu’s legal team led by Wole Olanipekun would need “nine days” to prove its case.

“The report of any expert witness must be made available to other parties 48 hours before the calling of such witnesses.

“We also agreed that the schedule of documents to be filed by parties must be served on all parties before the calling of witnesses,” Mr Otaru told the court.

However, he proposed 20 instead of the 30 minutes that was proposed by Mr Uche for expert witnesses to testify.