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Tribunal gives Atiku 10 days to call 400 witnesses

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The Presidential Election Petition Tribunal (PEPT) has allocated 10 days to the petitioners – Atiku Abubakar and the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) – to call the 400 witnesses they plan to call to prove their case.

The PDP and its candidate in the last presidential election are, by their petition, challenging the victory of President Muhammadu Buhari of the All Progressives Party (APC).

Respondents to the petition – the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), Buhari and the APC – have equally been allocated six days each to call their witnesses.

The allocation of days to parties in the case was agreed yesterday at the tribunal’s pre-hearing session where the scheduling of the hearing process was equally agreed.

At the beginning of yesterday’s proceedings, the petitioner’s lead lawyer Livy Uzoukwu said Atiku and the PDP planned to call 400 witnesses to prove their case.

Uzoukwu said although the petitioners proposed 400 witnesses, they would make do with the number they could call within the period prescribed by law.

At that point, the tribunal’s chairman Justice Mohammed Garba said the law, Paragraph 16(3) of the First Schedule to the Electoral Act, 2010, provides 14 days for the petitioners to conduct its case.

Following the information from the tribunal’s chairman, lawyers representing all the parties, sought a break of about 30 minutes to work out how to proceed during the hearing of the petition.

When proceedings resumed later, Uzoukwu said: “We have agreed that instead of the 14 days that we have to call our witnesses, we will take 10.

“The respondents have agreed to cut their 10 days to six days for each of them. Evidence-in-chief for what we call ‘ordinary witnesses’ will take five minutes.

“Cross-examination of such ordinary witnesses will take 10 minutes; evidence-in-chief of expert/subpoenaed witnesses, 10 minutes; cross-examination of same category of witnesses, 20 minutes and re-examination of all witnesses, three minutes each.

“Objection to documents will be indicated at the point of tendering and the address on it will be reserved till final address but will be isolated from the main address.

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