Tribunal dismisses applications by HDP to change its witness’ statement

Election petition tribunal
Election petition tribunal

The presidential election petition has refused an application by the Hope Democratic Party (HDP) to bring a new witness’ statement in their ongoing hearing of the party’s petition.

The application was brought by the presidential candidate of the party and first petitioner in the matter.

The tribunal, chaired by Justice Garba Mohammed, said the application for the new witness’ statement was a vital request which ought to have been properly made within 21 days after the results for the disputed elections were announced.

The court cited previous decisions where similar applications were dismissed by previous tribunals and called the application an abuse of court process.

The HDP is asking the court to nullify the 2019 Presidential elections on the grounds that the federal government’s decision to postpone the election was “unconstitutional”.

According to the HDP, the actions of the Independent National Electoral Commission in postponing the elections made the February 23 general elections questionable and in violations of the Electoral Act.

The party’s presidential candidate also alleged to have won the election through a “nation-wide referendum.”

The court also dismissed another application which was meant to “contend” with issues already before the court.

The second application titled, “notice to contend” was described as an abuse of court process by the tribunal.

The applicants had asked the court in their second request to declare Mr Owuru the winner of the elections based on the petitioner’s submission that he had won the election on February 16.

Mr Owuru, whose party members have since fallen apart, claimed that he had won the election based on a referendum on February 16, before the election was controversially postponed.

But the court frowned at the notice to contend, as filed by Mr Owuru and dismissed the application.

The court, however, allowed another application meant to correct grammatical errors in their petition.

The HDP ended its pre-hearing stage of its petition challenging Mr Buhari’s election.

The court, while stating the rules for the hearing of the substantive petition, said petitioners shall have two days to present their case as well as the respondents.

They shall have 10 minutes for examination, 15 minutes for cross-examination and five minutes for the re-examination of witnesses, respectively.

The respondents shall have three days after the close of evidence to file their final addresses.

The petitioners shall have three days after the services of the respective final addresses to file their own final presentations.

Each respondent shall also have two days after the petitioners file their final address to file their replies on points of law.

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