The Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and its presidential candidate in the last election, H.E. Atiku Abubakar, have announced their intention to wrap up the presentation of their case before the Presidential Election Petition Court (PEPC). The leader of their legal team, Chris Uche (SAN), made this disclosure during the resumed hearing on Tuesday.
Initially indicating their plan to call 100 witnesses during the preliminary hearing, the petitioners have so far presented 25 witnesses as of June 19. However, Uche stated that they still have the option to call five additional witnesses, bringing the total number to 30. He further revealed that some of the remaining witnesses will be replaced by documents that will be tendered in the final two days of proceedings.
Despite originally aiming to conclude on Tuesday, Uche explained that the court graciously extended their time by two days due to the loss of two days, including the June 12 public holiday. After Tuesday’s proceedings, Uche informed reporters that they would be closing their case on Thursday.
During the proceedings, Uche applied to tender documents obtained through subpoenas served on the Chairman of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC). He presented 14 bundles of voters’ registers for the Federal Capital Territory (FCT). However, the respondents’ lawyers objected to the admissibility of the documents and assured that they would provide their reasons in their final written addresses.
The proceedings took an abrupt pause when Uche attempted to tender bundles of certified true copies (CTCs) of election results, claiming they were obtained following a second subpoena issued to the INEC Chairman. Justice Haruna Tsammani noted that the documents were not properly arranged and marked for easy reference.
Uche placed the blame on INEC for the condition of the documents, alleging that the commission delayed their release and was reluctant to provide the requested materials. He suggested the establishment of a separate body to promptly preserve election materials after elections, allowing easy access for petitioners. Responding, Kemi Pinheiro (SAN) challenged Uche’s claims, stating that INEC and its officials had no reason to withhold election materials from petitioners. Pinheiro also accused the petitioners of failing to pay the required fees for document certification.
To ensure proper arrangement and marking of the documents, the court suspended proceedings for 10 minutes. When they resumed, Uche informed the court that the parties had agreed that the petitioners would take the documents home, prepare a schedule, and mark them for tendering on Wednesday.
The ongoing proceedings at the PEPC continue to shed light on the intricacies of the case as the PDP and Atiku Abubakar strive to present their evidence and make their case before the court.