- Fixes May 30 for hearing
The Presidential Election Petition Court has ordered the presidential candidates of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Atiku Abubakar; and the Labour Party (LP), Peter Obi, to present their cases within three weeks.
The presiding justice of the court, Justice Haruna Tsammani, stated this while presenting the pre-hearing report of the proceedings on the petitions challenging the outcome of the February 25, presidential election.
This was as he declared that the pre-hearing session had ended and the main hearing would commence on May 30, and end with the final addresses of the parties in July, to await judgment in August.
The panel said Atiku and PDP would use 20 minutes to examine their star and expert witnesses, while the cross-examination and re-examination would take five minutes, and other witnesses shall have 10 minutes for the main examination and five minutes for cross-examination shall be allowed.
The court granted INEC, APC, and the president-elect and candidate of the APC, Bola Tinubu, seven days to defend the petitions from July 7 to 16.
The panel also granted Obi’s star and expert witnesses 30 minutes and 20 minutes for examination and cross-examination respectively and five minutes for re-examination.
The panel gave INEC two days to defend the case, while the APC and Tinubu will have five days each to defend the cases.
In the guidelines, the court granted the All Peoples Movement (APM) and its presidential candidate, Chichi Ojei, one day to present their case on May 30.
In defence, INEC and the APC were granted one day each on May 31 and June 1 respectively.
The panel cautioned the lawyers in the matter to comply with the guidelines announced by the court for security reasons.
The panel further directed that by the rule under Paragraph 41 of the First Schedule to the Electoral Act, ordinary witnesses will only adopt and identify their documents on oath and not make oral testimony, while star and expert witnesses will use 20 minutes to do same and all cross examinations will be for five minutes.
Justice Tsammani said the court would appoint timekeepers to enforce the guidelines.
Plateau PDP fails to upturn judgment sacking elected officials at S/Court
Meanwhile, the Supreme Court has refused an application by the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in Plateau State seeking to overturn the judgments nullifying all its elected officials.
A five-member panel of justices of the apex court led by Amina Augie yesterday struck out the application for lack of jurisdiction.
The PDP, through their counsel, John Akubo (SAN), had pleaded with the apex court to set aside its order of December 7, 2022, dismissing appeal number: SC/CV134/2022 which it brought against the Plateau State Independent Electoral Commission (PLASIEC).
The PDP also pleaded with the apex court to hear the matter on its merit.
Trouble started in 2020 when the Plateau PDP chapter congress produced an executive led by Chris Hassan of the Jonah Jang camp, whose emergence was rejected by the Jeremiah Useni camp for not complying with the constitution, the Electoral Act and the guidelines of the party.
Aggrieved by the outcome of the state congress, Bitrus Kaze and other members of the PDP approached a Plateau State High Court, where the presiding judge, Justice S. P. Gang, agreed with him that the election for the executive committee did not conform to the provisions of Section 223(1)(a) of the 1999 Nigerian Constitution, the Electoral Act and the PDP Constitution.
When the local government elections approached, Kaze then petitioned the PLASIEC not to accept the list submitted by the caretaker committee based on the court order; which the commission complied with.
The party then filed the same issues before another high court, which alongside the Court of Appeal in Jos confirmed the earlier position that the PDP was in contempt of the court on the conduct of its executive committee.
The PDP then filed an appeal before the Supreme Court seeking to overturn the verdict of the Court of Appeal, but because they failed to file their appellant briefs within time and failed to diligently prosecute their matter, the Apex court on December 7, 2022, dismissed the appeal for want of diligent prosecution under Order 6 Rule 3(2) of the court.