Presidential Tribunal: Respondents conclude their defences, address stage begins

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Following the conclusion of defences by all the respondents, the ongoing Presidential Election Petition Tribunal has commenced the filing of written addresses by the parties in the matter.

After the February 25 presidential election, the petitioners: Peter Obi of the Labour Party and Atiku Abubakar of the PDP both dragged the respondents: INEC, Bola Tinubu, Kashim Shettima and their party (the APC) to the election court.

The petitioners’ grounds were that the court should cancel the presidential election that produced Tinubu and Shettima as elected president and vice president, respectively.

Having relied on the newly amended Electoral Act, 2022 as amended, the five man panel of justices gave the respondents 10 days and seven days to the petitioners to file their written addresses.

In an interview with newsmen, the legal team of Obi led by Livy Uzoukwu, SAN, said: “We thank God that this case has successfully completed its hearing.

“The next stage is for us to go into the writing of our addresses.

“We are very ready to reply the address of the respondents which they must file in the next 10 days beginning from today (Wednesday July 5). Thereafter, we will file our reply.”

On his part, Atiku’s lawyer. Mike Ozekhome, SAN said: “Whatever has a beginning, must have an end. Today, the proceeding in terms of hearing of the petition filed by Atiku and PDP against INEC, Tinubu and the APC has come to an end.

“We were able to call 27 witnesses. Some of whom were expert and star witnesses to prove our case.We tendered documents which were all admitted and marked as exibits in spite of opposition by the respondents.

“The reverse side of the coin is that INEC on whom the burden of holding election actually lies called only one witness.

“Secondly, the 2nd respondent, Tinubu himself only called one witness who is the current Senate Majority Leader. Michael Bamidele.

“As to the strength or weakness of Bamidele’s evidence, .is left for the tribunal. But we did grill him during cross examination to show that the evidence he gave was not credible.”

Ozekhome also said Tinubu is the only person who did not win the presidential election in his own state among the top four presidential candidates.

Our correspondent reports that the court will fix date for the adoption of written addresses in due course.