Presidential Election: We will call 400 witnesses, Atiku, PDP tell Tribunal
As parties agree on proceedings' modalities
The Presidential candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) Alhaji Atiku Abubakar and his party on Monday told the Presidential Election Petition Tribunal (PEPT) that they intend to call 400 witnesses to prove their petition, wherein they are challenging the victory of President Muhammadu Buhari, and his party, the All Progressives Congress (APC), at the February 23, 2019 general elections.
Atiku and his party told the tribunal, sitting at the Court of Appeal in Abuja that they will need only 14 days to call the witnesses and tender all documents they need to prove their case.
The five-member panel of Justices sitting on the panel, led by Justice Mohammed Garba said the 14 days period is prescribed under paragraph 16(3) of the First Schedule to the Electoral Act.
Responding, the lead counsel for the petitioners, Dr Livy Uzoukwu (SAN), said even though 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.”
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 adding that the tribunal shall set a template for cross-examination which will not be sacrosanct. It will be dependent on the circumstances.”
Uzoukwu later applied for a 30-minutes stand-down, to enable parties to the case resolve on other issues that would arise during the substantive hearing of the petition, a request the tribunal granted.
After due consultations, parties agreed on the modalities and structure for the hearing of the petition filed by Atiku and his party
Uzuokwu. who spoke on behalf of all lawyers in the matter told the tribunal that all parties agreed that the petitioners, instead of the 14 days allowed by law for them to call witnesses in the case, would spend 10 days while the respondents would use six days.
On time to be allotted to each witness to be called, parties agreed on five minutes for ordinary witnesses and 10 minutes for their cross-examination, while 10 minutes was agreed for star/expert/ subpoenaed witnesses, 20 minutes for their cross-examination and three minutes for their re-examination.
On the issue of documents, it was agreed that parties should indicate their objection if any at the point of tendering but address on the objection should be isolated from the main address.
They also agreed that all documents should be tendered from the bar and that parties should list and exchange schedule of documents they intend to rely on in the petition.
In respect of final addresses, parties agreed that respondents should file their final addresses 7 days after the close of addresses, petitioners 5 days, while 3 days is for a reply on point of law.
Meanwhile, the tribunal said it will deliver ruling on an application filed by the Atiku and PDP seeking to set aside its proceedings of June 11th 2019.
The tribunal reached the decision after parties in the petition had argued their briefs.