The People’s Democratic Party and its presidential candidate, Atiku Abubakar on Friday closed its case on its petition challenging the 2023 elections the Presidential Election Petitions Court, after presenting 27 witnesses.
The Labour Party and its presidential candidate, Peter Obi, also closed their case after calling a total of 13 witnesses and presenting several electoral documents duly certified by the Independent National Electoral Commission.
During the pre-hearing, Atiku’s legal team had said they would call 100 witnesses, while Obi’s legal team said they would call 50 witnesses.
During proceedings, Chris Uche, counsel to Atiku said, “May we most humbly apply to close the case for the petitioners.”
The five-man panel of judges led by Justice Haruna Tsammani then told the respondents that it was now left for them to open their defence in line with its pre-hearing report.
The petitioners, who have been tendering their evidence since May 8, will now be in the position to cross-examine the witnesses to be fielded by the legal team of INEC, president Tinubu and vice president Kashim Shetima and the All Progressives Congress.
INEC’s lawyer Oluwakemi Pinhero prayed the court to permit the INEC and other respondents to open their defence after the Salah Celebration break. He said that was the agreement between lawyers to parties.
Wole Olanipekun, counsel to Tinubu told the court that he and other respondents would conclude their defence within one week.
Ruling on their application, the court adjourned the petition to July 3 for defense.
Earlier, during hearing on Atiku’s petition, the petitioners witness Mike Enahoro Ebah who tendered the Chicago documents, under cross-examination by Tinubu’s lawyer, Wole Olanipekun questioned the witness on the Guinean passport he tendered, he said he downloaded it from the internet.
When asked if he is aware that Tinubu renounced the purported citizenship, the witness did not answer yes or no but said he read on an online news platform, Sahara reporters, that the Guinean president confirmed Tinubu’s citizenship.
But the panel of judges cautioned the witness to give a straight answer and stop trying to dribble the court. Ebah then admitted that he did not find out about Tinubu’s passport from the Guinean Embassy.
Tinubu’s lawyer asked the witness if he is aware that the Chicago State University in June 27 2022, in a statement duly signed by Caleb Weisberg said Tinubu attended and graduated from the school, the witness said no.
Olanipekun then tendered the school’s statement as evidence. Counsel to Atiku raised objections while INEC and APC supported the tendered document. The court then admitted it.
Under cross examination by APC’s lawyer, Lateef Fagbemi , the witness was asked if the documents he tendered from Chicago State University were certified by the school. The witness insisted the letter from the University attached to the academic records means the school records do not require any certification.
Again, the panel cautioned the witness to sstop trying to dribble the court.
Fagbemi asked the witness if he was a member of APC. He replied that he is part of the Obedient movement.
During proceedings in Obi’s petition, the Labour Party presented its chief spokesman of its Presidential Campaign Council and National Director, Media, Yunusa Tanko to testify. He told the court that he served as the national collation agent at the party’s situation room.
Led in evidence by Obi’s lead counsel, Livy Uzoukwu he tendered receipts issued by INEC to LP for several documents requested from the electoral umpire by the party. The five-man panel of the court led by Justice Haruna Tsammani admitted them as evidence.
Under cross-examination by INEC’s lawyer, Oluwakemi Pinhero, Tanko was presented with a copy of a Federal High Court judgement on Labour Party versus INEC delivered on January 3, 2023. After the witness confirmed the court judgement Pinhero tendered it as evidence before the court.
While Uzoukwu objected to the tendering of the FHC judgement, counsel to President Tinubu and APC backed INEC on its request to tender the court judgement and the court admitted it.
The court judgment held that INEC is not mandated to only use an electronic means in collating and transferring results.
The petitioners called another witness, Peter Emmanuel Yari. Yari said he served as an ad-hoc INEC presiding officer. He decried that during the elections, he could not upload the scanned copy of presidential refused using the BVAS machine.