Mr. Peter Obi, the Labour Party candidate in the 2023 presidential election, requested a seven-week extension to produce witnesses who would support his case at the Presidential Election Petition Court. He declared that he would present 50 witnesses who would testify and provide evidence to demonstrate that the 2023 presidential election was rigged against him.
During the proceedings of the petition filed by Obi to challenge the president-elect, Bola Tinubu, he conveyed his request through his team of lawyers, led by Prof. Awa Kalu, SAN. Obi acknowledged some difficulties he encountered at the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) and cited those as the reason for the seven-week extension.
“Our current predicament at INEC persists due to the court’s order on March 8, which directed them to permit us to conduct a forensic examination of the BVAS. They have not complied with that order. We are also awaiting certain documents we requested from them,” Prof. Kalu stated.
Furthermore, Obi’s counsel agreed that star witnesses would be allotted 30 minutes for their evidence-in-chief, excluding time for potential demonstrations of electronic evidence. Each party would have 20 minutes for cross-examination, and an additional five minutes for re-examination, as reported by Vanguard.
However, INEC, represented by its lawyer Mr. Abubakar Mahmood, SAN, denied having any agreement with Obi or the Labour Party regarding the allocated time for witnesses. They also refuted any knowledge of the challenges faced by the petitioners.
As the first respondent in the case, INEC stated that it would require three days to present its two witnesses. President-elect Tinubu, represented by his lawyer Roland Otaru, SAN, stated that he would need nine days to call a total of 21 witnesses (excluding expert witnesses) to defend his election victory.
Similarly, the APC’s counsel, Niyi Akintola, SAN, mentioned that the party would call only seven witnesses (excluding those to be subpoenaed) to testify in the matter. The APC stated that it would require only nine days to defend Tinubu’s election, pointing out that Obi and the Labour Party had only provided statements from three witnesses.
All respondents unanimously agreed that they should receive a 48-hour notice before any expert witnesses are called to testify in the case.