Tribunal delivers ruling on hearing of petition filed by PDP, Atiku
The presidential election tribunal has delivered a ruling to the effect that the hearing in the petition filed by the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and it’s presidential candidate must commence today.
The ruling followed an objection to the tendering of documents by respondents in the suit on the grounds that a decision by parties to conference on the documents to be tendered was not done.
In a ruling delivered after a forty minutes recess the chairman of the tribunal Justice, Mohammed Garba said “We have considered the submission on the issue of filing and schedule of documents. The agreement of the parties as the directive of the court to regulate this hearing agreed as follows; we have agreed that documents be tendered from the bar to be filed and exchange between the party. we also agreed that trial on the petition shall commence on July the 4th and all objection can be raised but will be addressed at the final address of the hearing .”
He further added that “The parties agreed that hearing shall commence today and did not agree that the exchange of schedule and list of documents was a condition precedent for the hearing to commence and none of them will be allowed to go back on the agreement particular by the nature of this matter which is time-bound”
Justice Garba also said that “In addition, the respondents cannot seriously and rightly say they do not know of the documents to be tendered because these documents are listed in the petition served on all parties in March more than two months ago and there is nothing that can stop the commencement and hearing of this trial .
As such the commencement of this trial shall start and continue as agreed by parties and endorsed by the tribunal.”
Earlier, counsel to President Buhari Mike Igbokwe objected to the tendering if documents by the petitioner.
Mr. Igbokwe said that It was only this morning that they were served and they have not been given the time to go through them.
Mr. Igbokwe said that “a situation that we are given the document this morning is not fair and I want to submit that because an order was given by this court It must be followed. I urge the court to suspend the trial until they comply with an order that the schedule of the document must be filed and exchanged between parties as consented to by all parties.
Counsel to INEC Mr. Yunush Usman on his part counsel to totally associated himself with the submission of the counsel to the submission of mister Igbokwe.
According to him “Let me state that our agreement was that we will all meet look at the documents they want to tender and then agree on the ones we want to disagree with. This is a serious ambush and should not be allowed. We urged the court to further order that we study the document and reach an agreement”.
Counsel to Apc Mr. Yakubu Makiyau also aligned himself with the submission of the first and second respondents.
He said “the very basis of the understanding is that the time of the court is not wasted and We are not ready for the tendering of these documents. The whole essence of prior service is to aid the respondent in answering to the documents.
Responding counsel to the petitioners Mr. Levi Uzoukwu said “I am surprised and shocked at the submissions they have made. They should commend us and not condemn us. Pre-trial was concluded yesterday and not on Monday as claimed by the second respondents.
The same yesterday we filed all the schedule of documents to be tendered today.
The registry started the processing of the schedule which are in volumes and concluded this morning.
Paragraph 7 of the agreement of the parties is so clear and unambiguous that no party has a right to amend it
It says we have agreed that documents be tendered from the bar to be filed and exchanged between the parties. We have filed and they have been served. We are not even complaining that we have not received theirs and we don’t intend to complain at this stage .seriously our time is been compromised by the respondents. I thank God that the 3rd respondents confessed that they are not ready and that with due respect accounts for his objection.
Let me also say that the documents to be tendered are all listed and pleaded in the petition in accordance with the electoral act and they are known to all parties and I do not understand where the ambush is coming from.
Finally on the issue. The issue of schedule is to facilitate easy for the marking and tendering of these documents.
We intend to start with Niger state and they have the schedule with them and I pray that we be allowed to start tendering, bearing in mind that this petition has a timeline that is fast approaching.