Obi, Labour Party Unprepared, Says Election Petition Court

The presidential election petition court has expressed its disapproval of the Labour Party (LP) and its presidential candidate, Peter Obi, for their lack of preparedness in their petition against President Bola Tinubu’s victory.

The court session on Thursday witnessed a setback when the petitioners’ legal team attempted to tender electoral documents as exhibits, which were found to have been improperly filed and scheduled before the court.

In an effort to rectify the situation, the court took a 10-minute break and requested the legal team to re-file the schedule of documents according to the provisions outlined in the pre-hearing report.

However, upon resuming the session, it became evident that the petitioners’ legal team remained uncoordinated, causing further dissatisfaction among the judges.

Haruna Tsammani, leading the five-member panel of the court, voiced their displeasure and advised the petitioners to request an adjournment in order to properly arrange their documents.

Expressing disappointment, one of the justices emphasized the wasted time resulting from the lack of preparedness, stating, “What we have done today is a waste of time. I think you underrated the kind of job you have to do.”

Nevertheless, Awa Kalu, another senior lawyer representing the petitioners, refused to entertain the court’s suggestion for an adjournment, stating that they had already taken one previously and did not wish to do so again. This decision added to the challenges faced by the petitioners in presenting their case effectively.

After subsequent discussions, the issues were eventually resolved, and the petitioners were able to tender electoral documents (form EC8As) from six states. These documents were presented as evidence for the petition and encompassed the following states and local government areas (LGAs): Rivers (15 LGAs), Benue (23 LGAs), Cross River (18 LGAs), Niger (21 LGAs), Osun (20 LGAs), and Ekiti (16 LGAs).

The petition filed by Peter Obi and the Labour Party enlisted a total of 83 witnesses who would be called upon by both the petitioners and the respondents.

The petitioners announced their intention to summon 50 witnesses, while the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) listed five witnesses. President Tinubu and Shettima each listed 21 witnesses, and the All Progressives Congress (APC) included seven witnesses in their list.

The court scheduled specific timeframes for each party to present their case. From May 30 to June 23, Obi and the Labour Party would have the opportunity to prove their claims, followed by INEC from June 24 to June 29. Tinubu and Shettima were given the period of June 30 to July 5, while the APC would present their case between July 6 and July 10.

Finally, on August 5, the adoption of final addresses would take place, bringing the proceedings closer to a conclusion.

Despite these developments, it is worth noting that only one witness has been called upon by the petitioners thus far, indicating that there is still a long way to go in this election petition court case.

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