As aggrieved political parties challenging the outcome of the February 25 presidential election closed their respective cases at the Presidential Election Petition Court, the court has fixed July 3 for the respondents to open their defence.
The petitioners are challenging the victory of President Bola Tinubu, who was declared the winner by the Independent National Electoral Commission.
INEC, Tinubu, his vice, Kashim Shettima, and the All Progressives Congress are to advance arguments against the claims made by the petitioners.
A reliable source said the respondents would likely open and close their defence within a week.
He stated, “That week is for all the respondents. All the petitioners finished in three weeks. It’s likely the first respondent will take the morning session, the second respondent will take afternoon, then maybe the following day, they will alternate between the President and the party, morning and afternoon sessions.”
“In any event, all the respondents by the scheduling order of the court were given five days. It can extend but the petitioners did not extend, so it’s not likely the respondents will ask for an extension.”
The Peoples Democratic Party and its presidential candidate, Atiku Abubakar, closed their case on June 23, 2023, having called 27 witnesses.
Also, the Labour Party and its presidential candidate, Peter Obi, closed their case on the same day, after fielding 13 witnesses in support of their petition against Tinubu.
Both petitioners tendered various documents which were admitted by the court and marked as exhibits.
The petitioners also subpoenaed witnesses to appear before the court, including INEC ad hoc staff and officials.
The PDP and Atiku disputed the outcome of the election on the major grounds that INEC did not conduct the election in line with the Electoral Act (2022).
They argued that INEC breached its earlier commitment to transmit the result of the presidential election electronically using the Bimodal Voters Accreditation System, and INEC Results Viewing Portal.
The LP and Obi also contended that the elections were marred by electoral malpractices.
Among others, the petitioners are asking the five-man panel of the court, headed by Justice Haruna Tsammani to invalidate the declaration of Tinubu as the winner.
In a similar development, the Allied Peoples Movement asked the court to invalidate the votes of the President on the grounds of the double nomination of his vice, Shettima.
The APM argued that at the time Shettima became the vice presidential candidate of the APC, he was also a senatorial candidate in Borno State.
The case of the APM was opened and closed on June 21 after calling one private witness.
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