Tribunal strikes out parts of LP’s petition, rejects 10 out of 13 witnesses

The Presidential Election Petition Tribunal has struck out about 17 paragraphs of the petition and rejected 10 out of 13 witnesses presented by the Presidential candidate of the Labour Party, Peter Obi.

The court struck out the paragraphs containing “vague and generic allegations”.

In a ruling on some motions filed by the respondents to the petition, the court held that in the affected paragraphs, the petitioners made allegations of malpractices and irregularities in the conduct of the election but failed to provide specific details in support of the allegations.

A member of the tribunal’s five-member panel, Justice Abba Mohammed who read the lead judgment noted that the petitioners failed to show which polling units the malpractices alleged occurred; the number of votes affected; and their polling unit agents who reported the alleged irregularities and malpractices, among others.

It rejected the respondents’ argument that Obi was not a member of the LP at the time of the election, noting that membership is an internal affair of a political party, which has the sole power to determine who its members are.

Justice Haruna Tsammani, who took over the judgement also stated that Obi called 13 witnesses who testified as PW1 to PW13, noting that of the 13 witnesses only three witnesses whose statements are on oath were filed along with the petition.

The remaining 10 witnesses, the Justice said, were subpoenaed and their witness statements on oath were only filed after the hearing started.

And by virtue of section 285 of the Nigerian constitution, section 137(7) of the Electoral Act 2022, and other provisions, every witness statement on oath must be filed along with the petition.
Tsammani said the petitioners were aware of the legal provision relating to the filing of witness statements on oath, yet went ahead to present 10 witnesses without their witness statements on oath earlier filed with the petition.
The court faulted the contention that Atiku Abubakar and the People’s Democratic Party, PDP, who came second in the election were necessary parties that ought to be joined in the petition.

Respondents to the petition are INEC, President Bola Tinubu, Vice President Kashim Shettima and the APC.

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