The Peoples Democratic Party and its presidential candidate, Alhaji Atiku Abubakar, have opened trial at the Presidential Election Petition Tribunal in Abuja in respect of their petition challenging the victory of President Muhammadu Buhari, at the February 23, 2019 poll.
The petitioners’ legal team led by Dr. Livy Uzoukwu (SAN), on Thursday, opened the trial by tendering electoral document, Form EC8C for Agaie Local Government Area of Niger State.
The tendering was opposed by the respondents’ lawyers, but as earlier agreed among the parties, the lawyers said they would give the reasons for their objection to the document at the final address stage.
The trial finally opened after the five-man tribunal’s dismissal of the respondents’ earlier request for the suspension of the trial on Thursday.
The respondents comprising the Independent National Electoral Commission, Buhari and his party, the All Progressives Congress, had earlier called for the suspension of the proceedings on the grounds of alleged late filing and serving of the petitioners’ schedule of documents on them shortly before sitting began on Thursday.
But ruling, the five-man bench led by Justice Mohammed Garba, dismissed the respondents’ request, saying that the agreements reached between the parties at the pre-hearing session concluded earlier on Wednesday, had stipulated that trial would commence on Thursday.
Justice Garba, who delivered the ruling of the tribunal added that the agreement reached which was adopted at the tribunal’s directive on Wednesday did also not make the service of the schedule of documents a condition-precedent for the commencement of trial.
He added that the respondents could also not validly claimed to have been ambushed by the alleged late filing of the schedule since the documents listed in it had been referenced in the petition filed and served on the respondents months ago.
The tribunal has admitted the Form EC8C for Agaie Local Government Area of Niger State tendered by the petitioners as Exhibit P1.
As of the time of filing this report, the petitioners’ lead counsel has asked to tender Forms EC8A and EC8B (series of polling unit and ward results) in respect of the said local government area.