PEPC: Tinubu, Shettima, APC close defence in Obi’s petition

President Bola Tinubu and the Vice President, Kassim Shettima, along with their party, the All Progressives Congress have closed their defence in the joint petition filed by the Labour Party and its candidate, Peter Obi.

The trio are co-respondents in the petition by the LP and Obi challenging their victory in the February 25 presidential election.

The respondents through their team of lawyers led by Wole Olanikpekun, SAN, (for Tinubu and Shettima) and Lateef Fagbemi, SAN, (for the APC) closed their defence after tendering several documents and calling a witness to testify in aid of their counter-arguments against the issues raised by the petitioners.

Despite the objections by the petitioners, the five-man panel of the court presided over by Haruna Tsammani admitted the documents as evidence and marked them as exhibits.

The court gave the respondents 10 days to file their final written addresses, the petitioner 7 days to respond and 5 days to reply on point of law.

Justice Haruna Tsammani said that the date for the adoption of the final written addresses would be communicated to the parties.

During the proceedings, the president called the senate majority leader, Michael Bamidele as a witness whose testimony was taken by the court.

Bamidele maintained that the $460, 000 forfeiture order against the President by an American court was in respect of a civil matter that cannot take the place of criminal charges.

He said there was no conviction and sentence against Tinubu as required by law for it to be turned into criminal charges.

The witness also told the court that the February 25 presidential election results for APC in Kano state were recorded with a shortfall of 10, 292 votes against Tinubu.

Under cross-examination by counsel to the APC, Fagbemi, SAN, the witness told the court that Obi’s name is not contained in the membership list of the LP submitted to the Independent National Electoral Commission.

Other documents tendered and admitted during Wednesday’s proceedings include a letter from the Nigeria Police to the United States Embassy, dated February 3, 2003; a letter from the United States Embassy to the Nigeria Police, dated February 4, 2003; and US Visas and immigration documents between 2011 and 2021.

Tinubu, Shettima, APC close their defence in Atiku’s petition

In a related development, the president, his Vice and their party, the All Progressives Congress have closed their defence in the joint petition by the Peoples Democratic Party and its candidate, Atiku Abubakar.

The PDP and Atiku are also challenging the outcome of the February 25 election wherein Tinubu emerged as president as declared by the electoral umpire, the Independent National Electoral Commission.

Among other grounds, the petitioners contended that INEC did not comply with the electoral laws including failure to transmit the election result electronically using the Bimodal Voters Accreditation System and the INEC Results Viewing portal.

They also argued that, contrary to the provisions of the law, the president failed to poll at least 25% of votes from the Federal Capital Territory.

During the resumed hearing in their defence on Wednesday evening, the respondents in the petition proceeded to close their case after tendering several documents and calling one witness to testify in the matter.

As in the case of Obi, the court gave the respondents 10 days to file their final written addresses, the petitioner 7 days to respond and 5 days to reply on point of law.

During the proceedings, the president again called the senate majority leader, Michael Bamidele as their sole witness.

Under cross-examination by counsel for the APC, Fagbemi, SAN, the witness affirmed that the president was not charged with any criminal offence by any American court.

This was about the widely circulated court affidavit from the United States District Court for the Northern District of Illinois, Eastern Division on civil forfeiture proceedings against Tinubu concerning $460,000.

However, the witness affirmed that “there can’t be a conviction without a charge, arraignment and defence.”

He said the president has a clean bill of health as far as criminal charges in the USA are concerned.

He further affirmed the statement by the senior advocate that the president is a citizen of Nigeria by birth.

More so, he affirmed the statement put to him by Fagbemi, SAN, that the court ruled following a suit by the LP that INEC had the liberty to determine the mode of collation of the election results.

Under cross-examination by counsel for the PDP and Atiku, Eyitayo Jegede, SAN, the witness argued that scoring 25% votes in Abuja was not a mandatory requirement for the office of the president.

But supporting his point that the FCT has a special status concerning the presidential elections and that a president must poll up to 25% of the entire votes to meet the requirement for the apex office, Eyitayo, SAN, said, ” The first respondent will be the first president to emerge without 25% in the FCT.”

He went on to tender a publication by Vanguard newspaper wherein the APC kicked against the deployment of the BVAS and IReV for the elections.

(Punch)