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APM closes case after calling one witness

APM and PEPC

The  Allied People’s Movement has closed its case at the Presidential Election Petition Court, (PEPC) in its petition challenging the February 25 election of President Bola Tinubu and Vice-President Kashim Shettima after calling one witness.

On Monday, APM counsel Gideon Idiagbonya had told the court that he needed just one day to open and close his case since he had only one witness.

Before then, the hearing of the party’s petition had stalled due to its inability to obtain a Supreme Court judgement of May 26.

The judgement had dismissed the PDP’s suit which sought to nullify the  president’s  election based on allegations of double nomination of Mr Shettima.

The petitioner, however, on getting hold of the judgement told the court on Wednesday that there was nothing in the judgement to prevent it from going ahead with the petition.

Respondents in the case, especially counsel to President Bola Tinubu, Wole Olanipekin, SAN, was however, of the view that the judgement had settled the sole issue the petitioner was contending.

At the resumed hearing on Wednesday, counsel to the petitioner called Aisha Abubakar who was his only witness.

Ms Abubakar told the court that she was a politician and the Assistant Welfare Officer of the APM, (the petitioner).

Under cross examination, the witness told the court that she wasn’t privy to when INEC got the notice of substitution for Borno Central Senatorial District for the APC.

The witness told the court that she was aware of the Supreme Court judgement delivered on May 26.

The All Progressives Congress, (APC), through its counsel, Mr Olanipekin, SAN, tendered a copy of the judgement in evidence.

Mr Idiagbonya, objected to the admissibility of the document in evidence but reserved his reason for objecting to the admissibility of the judgement until the final address stage.

Mr Olanipekin made the witness read part of the judgement highlighting the part where the apex court affirmed the judgement of the Court of Appeal that said both the president and vice-president were qualified to contest the election.

She was also made to read the part where the Supreme Court described the case of the Peoples Democratic Party, (PDP) as a frivolous appeal.

She also admitted that Kabiru Masari did not contest the presidential election.

After the witness was discharged from the witness box, counsel to the petitioner told the court that he would be unable to close his case as he had said on Monday.

The lawyer said this was because INEC had yet to give him some documents he requested from them.

“My lords, we could have closed our case today but some of the documents we asked for have not been given to us.

“We have issued a subpoena on INEC and we hope they will avail us of the remaining documents.”

He, however, was reminded that he had said in open court that he needed just one day to open and close his case and that today was his “one day”.

After realising that some of the documents he had subpoenaed had been brought to court by an INEC staff, Joan Arabs, a Deputy Director  of Legal Drafting, he took the hint of the court and closed his case.

One of the documents was the original of the online form submitted by Mr Shettima and another document was the original online form submitted by Lawan Shehu replacing Mr Shettima as senatorial candidate in Borno.

Kemi Pinhero, counsel to INEC, the first respondent in the petition, also closed his case after tendering the letter that Mr Shettima wrote to his party which was sent to INEC withdrawing his candidature for senatorial election.

All the respondents; President Tinubu, Mr Shettima, the APC and Kabiru Masari all closed their cases against the APM.

The Chairman of the Court, Justice Haruna Tsammani ordered the respondents to file their addresses within 10 days.

The judge also asked the petitioner to file his reply within seven days and the respondents to file their reply on points of law within five days.

The court adjourned proceedings until July 14 for parties to adopt their final written addresses.

APM had in its petition marked: CA/PEPC/04/2023, contended that the withdrawal of Kabiru Masari, who was initially nominated as the vice presidential candidate of the APC invalidated Tinubu’s candidacy in view of Section 131(c) and 142 of the 1999 Constitution, as amended.

The party argued that there was a  three-week gap between the period that Masari, who is listed as the 5th respondent in the petition, expressed his intention to withdraw, the actual withdrawal of his nomination, and the time Mr Tinubu replaced him with Mr Shettima.

It further argued that Mr Tinubu’s candidature had elapsed as at the time he nominated Mr Shettima as Mr Masari’s replacement.

The party prayed the court to declare that Shettima was not qualified to contest as the vice presidential candidate of the APC as at Feb. 25 when the election was conducted by INEC.

This, according to the petitioner, was on the grounds of having violated the provisions of Section 35 of the Electoral Act, 2022.

The petitioner therefore asked the court for an order nullifying and voiding all the votes scored by Mr Tinubu in the presidential election in view of his non-qualification as a candidate of the APC.

Meanwhile, hearing in the petition of the Peoples Democratic Party, (PDP) and Abubakar Atiku was adjourned until Thursday because hearing in the petition of the APM had encroached into their time.

The court had adjourned hearing of the petition of the PDP until Wednesday at 10am but hearing of the petition of the APM which started at about 9:30 a.m. went on until about 12:30 p.m. on Wednesday.

Mr Abubakar and the PDP were supposed to have closed their case on Thursday but because their petitioner could not be heard on Wednesday, Justice Tsammani said that they could take until Friday to conclude their case.

(NAN)

Source: Peoples Gazette

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