The Presidential Election Petitions Court (PEPC) has asked the presidential candidate of the Labour Party (LP), Mr Peter Obi, and his party to present their joint petition against the February 25 presidential election within three weeks.
The court also ordered the president-elect, Asiwaju Bola Tinubu, to defend his victory at the election along with the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) within five days. Obi, through his counsel, Professor Awa Kalu, SAN, had requested seven weeks to establish their allegations against the disputed election that produced Tinubu.
The chairman of the court, Justice Haruna Tsammani, issued the order yesterday while presenting the pre-hearing sessions report of the Court. Among others, Justice Tsammani ordered that Obi must open his petition for hearing on May 30 and end the same on June 23. The court said that it arrived at the decision because of the limited time within which the petition must be disposed of.
After the order of the court was handed down, Obi, who was in court to witness the proceedings, took permission from the court and left on the grounds that they were going to prepare for the full-blown hearing of the petition. Meanwhile, the court has ordered the consolidation of the petitions so as to ensure expeditious hearing of the petitions.
The court threw out the vehement objection of Tinubu and the All Progressives Congress (APC) to the consolidation. Despite stiff opposition from the president-elect, the court consolidated the petitions of the PDP, LP and the Allied People’s Movement (APM), all challenging the outcome of the February 25 presidential election outcome.
The presiding justice of the five-member panel hearing the various petitions against the declaration of Tinubu and the All Progressives Congress (APC) as joint winners of the presidential election, Justice Haruna Tsammani, said the consolidation was adopted towards speedy hearing of the petitions.
Tsammani held that the three petitions were related to the same election and the return of Tinubu as the winner, in addition to the effect that issues raised by the parties were similar. Accordingly, the court fixed Tuesday, May 30, 2023 for full blown hearing into the merged petitions.
Tinubu’s legal team imposes media ban
Also yesterday at the court, the legal team of the president elect, Bola Tinubu, placed a ban on media interviews throughout the defence of the president-elect in the three petitions against him. The legal team ordered that any lawyer that flouts the ban, no matter how highly placed, would be kicked out of the defence team.
Adeniyi Akintola (SAN), who conveyed the decision of the team to the court at yesterday’s proceedings, did not give any reason for the media ban. He said the same ban was extended to their client and president-elect, Tinubu. The senior lawyer said that the ban on media interviews by the legal team would be strictly observed and enforced.