…As LP Appeals Kano Court Judgement
The candidate of the Labour Party in the 2023 presidential election, Mr Peter Obi, on Saturday, demanded seven weeks to produce witnesses to establish his case at the Presidential Election Petition Court.
He also stated that he would present 50 witnesses that would testify and tender evidence to establish that the 2023 presidential election was rigged against him.
Obi disclosed this on Saturday during the proceedings on the petition he filed to challenge the president-elect, Bola Tinubu.
Addressing the court through his team of lawyers led by Prof. Awa Kalu, SAN, he noted that he was constrained in addition to a few hiccups he encountered at the Independent National Electoral Commission hence the request for seven weeks.
His counsel said, “My lords, we still have a few hiccups at INEC because of the order that was made by this court on March 8, directing them to allow us to carry out a forensic examination of the BVAS. They have not allowed us.
“We are also waiting for some documents we requested from them,” Prof. Kalu added.
His counsel also agreed that star witnesses would be given 30 minutes to present their evidence-in-chief, excluding the time for possible demonstration of any electronic evidence.
Obi’s lawyer also disclosed that parties agreed to use 20 minutes each to cross-examine the witnesses, another five minutes would be used for their re-examination, Vanguard reported.
But INEC, through its lawyer, Mr Abubakar Mahmood, SAN, said it had no agreement with either Obi or the LP on time to be allocated to the witnesses.
They also denied being aware of any hiccups being faced by the petitioners.
INEC, which is the 1st respondent in the matter, said it would need three days to present its two witnesses.
The President-elect, Tinubu, through his lawyer, Roland Otaru, SAN, said he would require nine days to call a total of 21 witnesses, excluding expert witnesses, to defend his election victory.
In the same way, counsel for the APC, Niyi Akintola, SAN, said the party would call only seven witnesses, excluding those to be subpoenaed, to testify in the matter.
The APC said it would require only nine days to defend Tinubu’s election, adding that Obi and the LP only frontloaded statements of only three witnesses.
Meanwhile, all the respondents stated they must be given 48 hours notice before any expert witness be brought to testify in the matter.
Meanwhile, the Labour Party (LP) has lodged an appeal against the judgment of the Federal High Court in Kano, presided over by Justice M N Yunusa.
The court had declared all votes cast for the LP candidates in Kano, Abia, and other parts of Nigeria as wasted votes.
The court’s ruling stemmed from a case, numbered FHC/KN/CS/107/2023, brought by Mr. Ibrahim Haruna Ibrahim against the Labour Party and the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC).
The court determined that the selection process leading to the emergence of Abia State Governor-elect, Alex Otti, and other LP candidates did not comply with the requirements stipulated in the 2022 electoral act.
One of the crucial points raised in the lawsuit was the LP’s failure to submit its membership register to INEC at least 30 days prior to their primaries, which the court deemed a violation, thereby invalidating the entire selection process.
The applicant further sought the court’s intervention to set aside the Certificate of Return issued to all LP candidates and direct INEC to declare the first runner-up as the winner in all constituencies where the LP emerged victorious.
Justice Yunusa pronounced, “A party that has not complied with the provisions of the electoral act cannot be considered to have a candidate in an election, and thus, cannot be declared the winner. Therefore, the votes attributed to the first defendant [Labour Party] are wasted votes.” However, the judge declined to order the issuance of a Certificate of Return to any individual in Abia state, stating that “the parties that participated in Abia state are not parties before this court.”
Responding to the ruling, LP’s legal counsel, Umeh Kalu SAN, filed an appeal on May 22, urging the court to set aside the judgment of the trial court.
Kalu outlined the grounds for the appeal, arguing that “the trial court erred in law and caused a miscarriage of justice by entertaining a suit that lacked any cause of action.”
He further contended that Section 285 of the 1999 Constitution confers exclusive jurisdiction on Election Tribunals to address complaints related to candidates’ participation and the votes garnered during a general election.