The Presidential Election Petition Court is to decide whether INEC adhoc staff, subpoenaed by the PDP and Atiku Abubakar can testify before it.
This followed spirited objections by the senior counsel representing INEC, Bola Tinubu and the APC, insisting that the witnesses cannot testify since their witness statements were not frontloaded in line with paragraph 4 of the first schedule to the Electoral Act 2022
Citing several authorities of the Court of Appeal, the lawyers for the three respondents argued that the law requires that the depositions of a witness must accompany the petition at the time of filing and must be front-loaded. They urged the court not to accept the deposition filed by Atiku’s witness since, according to them, it was not filed within the specified time.
However, the petitioners lead counsel Chris Uche urged the court to discounenace the arguments of the respondents. According to him, there is a difference between ordinary witnesses whose witness statements on oath must statutorily be frontloaded at the time of filing the petition and statement of a witness who is subpoenaed in the course of the hearing of a petition. He also cited authorities in decided cases of the Court of Appeal and the Federal High Court Civil Procedure Rules 2019, which guides the hearing of election petitions
Uche contended that it would amount to a legal fallacy and illogical to expect a front-loaded statement on oath of a witness who had yet to be compelled to appear before the court
After hearing all sides, the Justice Haruna Tsammani led panel announced it will take a short break to write their ruling on the matter.