May 29: Atiku lines up 100 witnesses against Tinubu as tribunal adjourns hearing to May 22

Former Vice President and candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) Alhaji Atiku Abubakar has lined up a total of 100 witnesses to testify in the petition filed against the outcome of the presidential election that was held on February 25, 2023.

This is as the Presidential Election Petition Tribunal in Abuja has once again adjourned further pre-hearing in the petition filed by Atiku against President-Elect Bola Ahmed Tinubu till Monday, May 22, 2023.

According to reports, while Atiku has lined up 100 witnesses to prove his case, the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) has two witnesses while the president-elect, Bola Tinubu, and his political party, the All Progressives Congress (APC) has 39 witnesses each to defend their victory.

In all of these, Atiku told the Presidential Election Petition Court (PEPC) that he needs only three weeks to call his witnesses to prove that the President-elect, Asiwaju Bola Tinubu was wrongly returned by INEC as winner of the disputed election.

In their joint petition marked: CA/PEPC/05/2023, Atiku and PDP are urging the court to among other reliefs, withdraw the Certificate of Return that was issued to the President-elect by INEC

The petitioners maintained that the declaration of Tinubu as the winner of the presidential election was “invalid by reason of non-compliance with the provisions of the Electoral Act, 2022”.

They further argued that Tinubu’s election was invalid by reason of corrupt practices, insisting that he was not duly elected by a majority of lawful votes cast at the election.

Atiku further prayed the court to declare him the winner of the presidential election, having secured the second-highest number of lawful votes cast at the election.

At the resumed proceedings on Saturday, lead counsel to the petitioners, Chief Chris Uche, SAN, disclosed that among the 100 witnesses are experts and others that would be summoned by the court to give evidence.

“We may not even exhaust the three weeks because the issues are getting narrower, “Atiku’s lawyer, Uche SAN, added.

On its part, the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, through its lawyer, Abubakar Mahmood, SAN, said it would only call two witnesses.

Lead counsel to Tinubu at the proceedings, Mr Roland Otaro, SAN, disclosed that his client would call 39 witnesses to testify before the court, not excluding other persons he may apply to be subpoenaed to appear before the court.

On its part, the All Progressives Congress, APC, Mr. Solomon Umoh, SAN, said it would also need two days to call 39 witnesses before the court.

Meanwhile, the presidential election tribunal has adjourned Atiku’s case against Tinubu to May 22, 2023.

The adjournment was granted at the request of the parties involved, allowing them time to consult on the provision of Section 50 of the Electoral Act.

It was learnt that while the first respondent, INEC, and the other parties – Atiku, Tinubu, and the APC – sought time to consult and provide a report to the tribunal, all parties agreed on the procedural details for the upcoming proceedings.

After careful consideration of the submissions from each party, the tribunal decided to adjourn until Monday for the continuation of the hearing.

The tribunal has temporarily adjourned and will reconvene shortly to proceed with the pre-hearing session for Peter Obi and the Labour Party’s petition.

By Temitope Hassan