…Tinubu, Shettima, APC Oppose Consolidation. …PDP, Atiku, Obi, Labour Party Favour Consolidation …Court adjourns to Tuesday May 23, 2023 For Nigeria’s president-elect, Senator Bola Ahmed Tinubu, his Vice Senator Kashim Shettima and the All Progressives Congress ( APC) the Presidential Election Petitions Court should not consolidate the three pending petitions challenging their victory. Alhaji Atiku
…Tinubu, Shettima, APC Oppose Consolidation.
…PDP, Atiku, Obi, Labour Party Favour Consolidation
…Court adjourns to Tuesday May 23, 2023
For Nigeria’s president-elect, Senator Bola Ahmed Tinubu, his Vice Senator Kashim Shettima and the All Progressives Congress ( APC) the Presidential Election Petitions Court should not consolidate the three pending petitions challenging their victory.
Alhaji Atiku Abubakar of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Peter Obi of the Labour Party(LP) and the Allied Peoples Movement (APM) filed their petitions in March to challenge the outcome of the February 25,2023 Presidential Election are not fundamentally opposed to the consolidation of all petitions.
The petitions, containing largely similar complaints, accused the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) of widespread irregularities during the conduct of the presidential election, non-compliance with its guidelines as well as the non-qualification of Asiwaju Tinubu, the winner of the contest.
Alhaji Abubakar and Mr Obi in their separate petitions are urging the court to either declare them president or nullify Mr Tinubu’s victory and order a fresh poll.
But the APM is praying the court to declare Alhaji Abubakar president.
Last week, the court asked lawyers of parties in the petitions to address it on the provisions of paragraph 50 of the Fourth Schedule of the Electoral Act, 2022, which allow the court to consolidate the petitions.
At the resumption of the court’s pre-hearing session on Monday, Senator Tinubu’s lawyer, Chief Akin Olujinmi Senior Advocate of Nigeria (SAN) appealed to the five-member panel of the court led by Haruna Tsammani not to consolidate the petitions. Chief Olujinmi, a former Attorney-General of the Federation (AGF) argued that consolidating the suit would undermine the “interest of justice.”
“The interest of justice in these petitions should be a restraint on the power of this court in granting a consolidation of these petitions,” adding: “when the exercise of power is subjective to some limitations of some conditions, then, it cannot be said to be mandatory”, he said, during the pre-hearing session of the APM’s petition on Monday.
While Mr Olujinmi conceded that some of the petitioners’ prayers were similar, he said “some issues are not the same”.
“The counsel representing the petitioners and respondents are different and the grounds of the petitions are different.
It will be overreaching for the respondents if consolidation is granted. We most humbly urge my Lords not to grant consolidation,” Chief Olujinmi said.
APC’s lawyer, Chief Charles Uwensuyi-Edosomwan SAN toed the same line of argument adding that consolidating the petitions would be “unwieldy. We are opposing the consolidation of the petitions. The interest of justice will not be served by a consolidation of all of these petitions,” Chief Uwensuyi-Edosomwan, said.
He contended that “The trial of the petitions will be unwieldy, and the substance of the case will be lost.”
But INEC’s counsel, Kemi Pinheiro SAN neither supported nor objected to the call for consolidation of the petitions.
Also, APM’s lawyer, S A T Abubakar, did not object to the consolidation of the petitions.
Counsel to Mr Peter Obi and labour party, Prof. Awa Kalu SAN said it was at the discretion of the Court whether to consolidate or not.
The court expressed worry that the Labour Party and it’s candidate were asking for seven weeks to call it’s witnesses stressing that statutorily the petition would lapse on 16th of September stressing that the implication of this was that only four days would be left for the court to write it’s judgement.
“If you cannot give us time we may be forced to give you time”,the court advised Prof Kalu who lamented that INEC refused to allow his team conduct forensic examination of the BVAS used by the Independent National Electoral Commission ( INEC).
INEC’s counsel ,however, informed the court that the Commission received a letter from Mr. Obi’s legal team on Saturday and that all they requested were available at the states subject to payment of necessary fees.
In the APM petition, the Petitioners said they are calling only one witness and would need two days to present their case. APM’s counsel, Mr Abubakar said they agreed that star witness would have 20 minutes for examination in Chief, cross-examination for 25minutes and five minutes or re-examination.
The electoral body has only one witness and need one day to defend itself, APC has one witness and would require five days to defend it’s victory, Senators Tinubu and Shettima would be calling five witnesses while the 5th respondent, Alhaji Masari according to his counsel, Dr. Ronald Otaru says he intends to call only one witness and ask for only one day to defend itself.
The court adjourned to Tuesday May 23, 2023.