Tribunal set guidelines for main hearing on presidential election

The Presidential Election Petitions Tribunal has set guidelines for the conduct of hearing in the main petition by the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and its presidential candidate, Atiku Abubakar, challenging the February 23 presidential election.

The five-member panel of justices presided by Justice Mohammed Garba, yesterday, said that it will on July 3 give ruling on the motion by the PDP seeking to set aside the proceedings of June 11.

Atiku and the PDP are challenging the proceeding of June 11 wherein the party could not reply to a motion by the All Progressives Congress (APC). The tribunal will also decide on all other pending preliminary applications to conclude the pre-hearing session.

Meanwhile, at the proceeding yesterday, lawyers in the matter agreed to utilise the remaining 90 days for the conclusion of the petition.

Lawyers to Atiku and PDP, Levy Uzoukwu (SAN); the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), Yunus Ustaz Usman (SAN); President Muhammadu Buhari, Wole Olanipekun (SAN); and APC, Charles Edosonmwan (SAN) informed the tribunal of their joint decision. The lawyers agreed that instead of 14 days, the petitioners will use 10 days to call their witnesses while INEC, Buhari, and APC will use six days.

PDP had over 400 witnesses. The parties also agreed that they will spend five minutes to take evidence in chief from ordinary witnesses, while examination of expert and subpoenaed witnesses will take 20 minutes.

As part of the guidelines for the main hearing, the parties agreed that every objection to documents tendered in the hearing could be indicated at the point of tendering, but would not be taken until during final address where it would be taken separately.

In respect of final addresses, while the respondents in the petition are supposed to take 10 days, they agreed to take seven days – the petitioner takes five days while reply on points of law is three days for all parties.

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