We’ve lined over 400 witnesses against Buhari’s re-election - Atiku, PDP tell tribunal/

The Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, and its presidential candidate, Alhaji Atiku Abubakar, Monday told the Presidential Election Petition Tribunal that they had proposed to call 400 witnesses to prove their petition challenging the victory of President Muhammadu Buhari and his All Progressives Congress, APC, at the February 23 election.

The Justice Mohammed Garba-led five-man tribunal said they will have only 14 days to do this and tender all documents they need to prove their case, adding that the 14 days period is prescribed under paragraph 16(3) of the First Schedule to the Electoral Act.

Garba had asked PDP’s lead counsel the number of witnesses he had to present in a bid to determine the time that would be allotted to parties to cross examine the witnesses.

In response, Dr. Livy Uzoukwu SAN, the lead counsel for the petitioners, said as much as his clients had proposed 400 witnesses, they “intend to call as many witnesses as possible within the prescribed time”.

Uzoukwu also informed the tribunal that counsel representing the various parties in the case had also agreed that “we will tender and reserve objection till final addresses”.

He added, “What we have not agreed on yet is whether we will be given opportunity or isolate the preliminary objection from the main address.

“We are also not too sure on the length of time of cross-examination.”

Justice Garba said, the length of time for cross-examination “will be dependent on the circumstances and facts”, particularly the number of witnesses parties to the case intended to call.

“But we shall set a template for cross-examination which will not be sacrosanct.

“Like I said it will be dependent on the circumstances,” he said.

Uzoukwu later applied for a 30-minutes stand-down, to enable parties to the case to resolve on other issues that would arise during the substantive hearing of the petition.

The tribunal granted the application.

Earlier, the court reserved ruling on a pre-hearing on an application by the All Progressives Congress, APC, which challenged the validity of PDP’s petition.

PDP argued that the application – which is similar to another one that the APC had filed – should have been struck out instead of the allowing the ruling party withdraw it.

The PDP presidential candidate, Atiku is challenging the declaration of President Muhammadu Buhari by the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, as winner of the last presidential election.

Abubakar, in his petition claimed that he polled 18,356,732 votes while Buhari secured 16,741,430, citing INEC’s server.

However, the electoral commission said Buhari polled 15,191,847 votes to defeat the former vice-president who secured 11, 262,978.

 


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