2019: Tribunal gives Atiku 14 days to bring over 400 witnesses

2019: Tribunal gives Atiku 14 days to bring over 400 witnesses

Counsel to Alhaji Atiku Abubakar told the Presidential Election Petition Tribunal Monday that they had proposed to call 400 witnesses to prove their petition challenging the victory of President Muhammadu Buhari, and his All Progressives Congress, at the February 23 poll.

The Justice Mohammed Garba-led five-man tribunal gave Atiku counsel 14. days within which present witnesses.

Garba said that the 14 days period was prescribed under paragraph 16(3) of the First Schedule to the Electoral Act.

In response, Dr. Livy Ozoukwu said “although we proposed 400 witnesses, we intend to call as many witnesses as possible within the prescribed time.

“We will tender and reserve objection till final addresses.

“What we have not agreed on yet is whether we will be given opportunity to isolate the preliminary objection from the main address.

“We are also not too sure on the length of time of cross-examination,” Ozoukwu said.

Justice Garba however explained that the length of time for cross-examination “will be dependent on the circumstances and facts,” particularly the number of witnesses parties to the case intended to call.

“But we shall set a template for cross-examination which will not be sacrosanct,” Garba said.

The Tribunal further deliberated on other preliminary issues concerning the petition of the PDP and Atiku/Obi amongst which are:

  1. Certifying and adopting pre hearing proceedings
  2. Number of witnesses the Parties are willing to call
  3. Streamlining the proceedings of the hearings due to time constraints.

After series of deliberations by counsel for all the parties, the counsel agreed as follows:

  1. That 10 days should be given to petitioners to present their cases.
  2. That Respondents should be given 6 days each.
  3. Evidence in Chief – 5 minutes each (ordinary witnesses)
  4. Cross examination of ordinary witnesses- 10 minutes.
  5. Expert witnesses – 10 minutes.
  6. Cross examination of the same.
    category of witnesses – 20 minutes
  7. Re examination of all witnesses – 20 minutes each.
  8. Objections with documents indicated at the point of tendering and the address clearance isolated from the main address.
  9. Documents should be tendered at the bar.
  10. Parties will prepare schedule of documents to be tendered, filed and exchanged between the parties.
  11. Final addresses: The respondents will be given 7 days after the close of arguments and for the petitioners – 5 days.
  12. Replying to final addresses on the point of law – 3 days across board.
  13. One hour break during proceedings.
  14. Time schedule for proper hearing was disgusted as follows:
    a. start proceedings – 9:30am
    b. Break – 1pm to 2pm and
    C. Tribunal closes each day at 4pm
  15. That proper hearing of the petition should begin from Thursday, 4th July 2019.
  16. Parties are at liberty to modify their submissions at any given time within the period of the hearings

These agreements were reached by counsel to all the parties and presented to court

The trial Judge, Justice Garba Mohammed after hearing the suggestions from the counsel, informed the court that the Tribunal wouldl adjourn the pre-hearing to Wednesday, 3rd of July 2019 to determine the ruling on all the motions concerning the proceedings and streamlining of the time for proper hearing of the petitions.

Tribunal adjourned to Wednesday July 3, 2019.

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