The All Progressives Congress, its presidential candidate Bola Tinubu, and Vice President-Elect Kashim Shetima have opposed the proposal for a consolidation of the three petitions pending before the court
Also opposing the petition is Shetima’s placeholder, Kabiru Masari who is the 5th respondent in the petition filed by the Allied People’s Movement (APM).
The court had drew the attention of the lawyers to the provision in paragraph 50 of the first schedule to the Electoral Act 2022 which states, “Where two or more petitions are presented in relation to the same election or return, all the petitions shall be consolidated, considered and be dealt with as one petition unless the Tribunal or Court shall otherwise direct in order to do justice or an objection against one or more of the petitions has been upheld by the Tribunal or Court”
But the respondents all argued that while the provision on consolidated involves a mandatory clause, it still does not vitiate the exercise of discretion by the court
According to them, consolidating the petition will hurt their interest as they will not be able to effectively argue their cases which will defeat the interest of justice.
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They further argued that the issues, pleadings, grounds and the parties to the petitions are varied and hearing them all together will cause immense damage to the parties.
While the court noted that the petition is constrained by time, the respondents argued that convenience of time cannot be sacrificed for justice, insisting that the provision in paragraph 50 does not oust the discretionary powers of the court
INEC however was not opposed to consolidating the petitions, leaving the final decision on it to the court.
The petitioners – APM, PDP and Atiku Abubakar – also expressed their support for a consolidation of the petitions
(Editor: Paul Akhagbemhe)