The absence of a witnesses has stalled the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) defence in the petition filed by the Labour Party (LP) and its presidential candidate, Peter Obi challenging the outcome of the 2023 presidential election.
The Presidential Election Petition Court (PEPC) sitting in Abuja had on June 23 adjourned till July Monday 3rd for the INEC which is the first respondent in the petition to open its defence of the February 25 presidential election, which it conducted.
The electoral umpire had proposed to call three witness today (Monday 3rd).
But at the resumption of proceedings on Monday morning, Abubakar Mahmoud, lead counsel to INEC asked the court for an adjournment till tomorrow (Tuesday) on the grounds of the unavailability of one of its witnesses for the day. He also old the court that his client will defend its matter in three days.
The request for adjournment was not opposed by Counsels to the petitioners and President Tinubu, Vice President Kashim Shettima and the APC, who are listed as second to fourth respondents in the petition.
Consequently, the five-man panel of Justices of the court, led by Justice Haruna Tsammani adjourned further proceedings in the petition till Tuesday, July 4, 2023.
It would be recalled that Obi and his party had, on Friday, June 28 closed their case in their petition challenging the declaration of Bola Ahmed Tinubu as the winner of the February 25 presidential election.
Obi and LP have presented a total 13 witnesses and tendered several documents to prove their allegations that the presidential election was conducted in gross violation of the Constitution, Electoral Act and INEC’s guidelines.
During interview with newsmen after the proceedings, Livy Uzoukwu, lead counsel to Obi said reh calk for adjournment by INEC only shows that rehy are but ready to defend the election.
“We are ready to come here tommorow, but I have a hunch that given the contradictions and inconsistencies, I am sure that they are but ready to defend this case, I stand to be quoted wrong.
“But I wish that they will defend this matter so that the public will come and see what happened. We have never had an election alike the last one”, he said.