The Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, says it would not call on any witness to defend the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, and its candidate, Atiku Abubakar’s petition challenging the victory of President Muhammadu Buhari in the February 23 presidential election.
The electoral body had been asked by the Justice Mohammed Garba-led five-member panel tribunal on July 19, to open its defence to the petition.
INEC was six days to call its witnesses and tender evidence to defend its declaration of President Buhari of the All Progressives Congress, APC, as the winner of the election.
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However, INEC, via its lead counsel, Mr Yunus Usman, SAN, told the tribunal on Monday that it had no defence.
“My lords, we have painstakingly reviewed the evidence of the petitioners’ witnesses and also painstakingly studied petitioners’ witness evidence under cross-examination, which supports our defence and denial in consonance with our pleadings.
“We do not see the need to waste the time of the tribunal in repeating the same thing.
“In the circumstance, we will not call any witness to help them prove their case. We, therefore, rely on the petitioner’s witnesses under cross-examination”, Usman, SAN, stated.
Chief Wole Olanipekun, SAN, Buhari’s lawyer, therefore, stated his client was ready to kick-start his defence on Tuesday.
“In view of this development, the 2nd respondent will most honourably be asking that we kick-start calling our witnesses by 2 pm tomorrow. We assure the tribunal that when we start, we won’t ask for an adjournment”, Olanipekun added.
Counsel to Atiku and PDP, Dr. Livy Uzoukwu, SAN, said he was “profusely” thankful to INEC for not calling any witnesses to defend the case of his clients.
And Buhari’s request was granted.