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The Presidential Election Petition Court (PEPC) sitting in Abuja has asked parties in the petition brought before it by the Presidential candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Alhaji Atiku Abubakar and his party against the declaration of the presidential candidate of the All Progressives Congress (APC) to consult on the issue of consolidating the three surviving petitions against Tinubu’s victory and report back to the court on Monday, May 22.
The five-member panel of Justices of the court, led by Justice Haruna Tsammani gave the directive on Saturday after parties confirmed to the court their agreement on the number of witnesses to be called, allotted time for examination of witnesses as well as other modalities for the hearing of the petitions.
Justice Tsammani specifically asked for the opinion of counsel on Paragraph 50 of the first schedule of the Electoral Act with regard to the issue of consolidation.
In his response, Counsel to Atiku and the PDP, Chief Chris Uche (SAN) prayed the court to either stand down the matter or adjourn till Monday to enable consultations with parties to come out with an informed opinion on the issue.
Abubakar Mahmoud (SAN), representing INEC, in his submissions said, the law allows consolidation and thanked the court for the directive that parties should meet on the issue and address the court on Monday.
Meanwhile, Rowland Otaru and Solomon Umoh, both Senior Advocates of Nigeria, representing Tinubu and the APC respectively told the court that they will consult with their lead counsel on the issue.
Earlier, Atiku and PDP, through their counsel, informed the court that the petitioners intend to call not more than 100 witnesses to prove their case of gross violation of the Constitution, Electoral Act and INEC guidelines in the conduct of the February 25 presidential election that produced Tinubu as the President-elect.
Otaru, on his part, told the court that, the president-elect, who is the second respondent will call 39 witnesses to defend his victory at the poll, while Umoh, who conducted the Saturday proceedings for the APC said the party has lined up 25 witnesses, excluding superheated witnesses to testify in the petition challenging Tinubu’s election.
Meanwhile, the court adjourned further hearing in the pre-hearing session till Monday, May 22.
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