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Presidential election tribunal: INEC fails to call witnesses

22 deregistered political parties restored by Appeal Court

The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) on Monday failed to call any witness in the suit challenging their verdict in the 2019 presidential election.

The commission said it will not call any witness to defend its case against former Vice President and Peoples Democratic Party’s (PDP) Presidential candidate, Atiku Abubakar and his party at the Tribunal in Abuja.

 Atiku and the PDP filed a petition before the tribunal, challenging the declaration of President Muhammadu Buhari of the All Progressives Congress (APC) as the winner of the February 23rd 2019 presidential election. 

 After presenting 62 witnesses, Atiku and the PDP closed their case on July 19th. The tribunal, led by Justice Mohammed Garba adjourned further proceedings till Monday July 29th for INEC to open its defence.

However, when called upon by the tribunal to open his case, Monday, counsel to the electoral commission, Yunus Usman (SAN), said it would not be necessary on the grounds that the evidence extracted from the petitioners’ witnesses during cross-examination was in support of the commission’s case.

“We have painstakingly reviewed the evidence of petitioners’ witnesses. We have also painstakingly studied the petitioners’ evidence under cross-examination, which supports our defence and our denial in consonance with our pleadings.

“My lords, we do not see the need to waste your lordship’s precious time by repeating what their witnesses have repeated under cross-examination. In that circumstance, we will not call any witness to help them prove their case. We, therefore, rely on the evidence of their witness under cross-examination.” Usman said.

Counsel to President Buhari, Chief Wole Olanipekun (SAN) who responded, requested to be allowed to open his client’s case at 2:00 p.m. on Tuesday July 30th. 

APC’s lawyer, Lateef Fagbemi (SAN), said his decision on whether or not to call witnesses would depend on the case to be presented by Buhari’s legal team.

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