By Abimbola Ogunnaike
The Presidential Candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Atiku Abubakar and his party will on Thursday, 22 June, 2023 close their case in their joint petition challenging the declaration of Bola Ahmed Tinubu as the winner of the Saturday, 25 February, 2023 presidential election.
The petitioners, according to a pre-hearing report were supposed to close their case on Tuesday, 20 June, 2023 but their lead counsel, Chief Chris Uche (SAN) brought to the notice of the Presidential Election Petition Court (PEPC) that they lost two days out of the days allotted to them and asked that the two days be returned.
The petitioners, who told the court during the pre-hearing session that they would call 100 witnesses, have only presented 25 witnesses so far.
Speaking with newsmen on Tuesday, 20 June, 2023, counsel to the petitioners said, they might call additional five witnesses to have a round figure of 30 witnesses.
Uche said some of the documents to be tendered in the remaining two days would take the place of the remaining 70 witnesses.
“We are closing our case on Thursday, it was supposed to end today (Tuesday) but because we lost two days, one of which was the June 12 public holiday, the court graciously extended our time by two days”, Uche told newsmen after the proceedings.
Earlier in the proceedings, the petitioners lamented the difficulties encountered in getting Certified True Copies (CTC) of documents out of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) in aid of their joint petition challenging Tinubu’s election.
At the resumed hearing of the petition, Counsel to Atiku and his party told the court that, getting materials from INEC is like getting weapons from an opponent.
He told the Court that getting documents from INEC was very difficult, but commended the legal team of the electoral body, headed by Abubakar Mahmoud (SAN) for their assistance in getting some of the documents from INEC.
Uche applied for a stand-down in the proceedings to enable the petitioners mark the deluge of documents made available to them Tuesday morning.
Meanwhile, counsel to INEC, Kemi Pinhero (SAN) told the court in his submissions that INEC officials brought the documents from all over the country and that the petitioners are yet to pay for the certification of the documents.
He said it was incumbent on the petitioners to prepare a schedule of documents they wish to tender.
The court rose for about ten minutes to enable parties in the petition put heads together and find a way forward with the documents.
When parties reconvened, Uche reported to the court that they have agreed that the petitioners go back with the documents, prepare a schedule of documents and mark them for tendering on Wednesday, 21 June, 2023.
The five-member panel of Justices of the court, led by Justice Haruna Tsammani adjourned till Wednesday, 21 June, 2023 for the continuation of hearing in the petition.