On Wednesday, the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and its presidential candidate, Atiku Abubakar, presented their first subpoenaed witness at the Presidential Election Petition Court in Abuja.
The witness, who the court summoned, is an ad hoc Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) staff member. The PDP and Atiku are challenging the victory of President Bola Tinubu in the February 25 presidential election, as stated in their petition marked CA/PEPC/05/2023.
During the hearing, Chris Uche (SAN), the counsel for the PDP, informed the court about their intention to call the first subpoenaed witness, who happened to be an ad hoc staff of INEC. However, the respondents in the case, including INEC, Tinubu, and the All Progressives Congress (APC), objected to the witness’s testimony.
Before the witness could take his oath, A.B. Mahmoud (SAN), the counsel for INEC, objected, stating that he had only been served with the witness’s statement on Wednesday morning and needed time to study it for a thorough cross-examination. Tinubu’s lawyer, Akin Olujimi (SAN), and APC’s lawyer, Lateef Fagbemi (SAN), echoed the same argument.
In response, Uche argued that nothing significant in the witness’s statement warranted an adjournment and requested the court to allow at least one of the subpoenaed witnesses to testify within the allotted time.
The chairman of the five-man Presidential Election Petition Court panel, Justice Haruna Tsammani, proposed a 30-minute adjournment to allow the respondents to examine the documents and proceed with cross-examination. However, the INEC lawyer insisted that the witness could only testify after some time since he was an ad hoc staff of the commission and needed to consult INEC’s records for proper preparation.
Due to the respondents’ insistence, Uche requested an adjournment until the following day (Thursday). Earlier, the PDP and Atiku had presented their 11th witness, Ndubuisi Nwobu, the PDP chairman in Anambra state, who testified that the election results were disputed at lower levels before reaching the state level during cross-examination by the APC’s counsel.
Meanwhile, the Labour Party and its presidential candidate, Peter Obi, who also contested Tinubu’s victory, submitted the final results for all 36 states of the federation and the Federal Capital Territory as evidence. The document, Form EC8D(a), was tendered by Paul Annanaba (SAN) on behalf of the party and Obi. The panel admitted the national document as evidence without objection from the respondents and adjourned the hearing until the next day (Thursday).