Politics

JUST IN: Tinubu, APC Reject Move by Tribunal to Consolidate Atiku and Obi’s Petitions

The President-elect, Asiwaju Bola Tinubu, and the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) have expressed their opposition to the attempt to consolidate the three separate petitions that seek to nullify the outcome of the 2023 presidential election.

POLITICS NIGERIA reports that Tinubu, represented by his team of lawyers led by Chief Akin Olujinmi, SAN, argued that merging all the petitions would impede his ability to adequately defend against the allegations raised by the petitioners.

“In the interest of justice, this court should exercise restraint in granting the order for consolidation,” Tinubu pleaded, emphasising that the petitioners raised various issues against him and sought different reliefs.

It should be noted that the Presidential Election Petition Court (PEPC) in Abuja had expressed its intention to consolidate all the petitions.

The five-member panel, led by Justice Haruna Tsammani, cited Paragraph 50 of the First Schedule to the Electoral Act, which grants them the authority to merge and collectively determine the petitions.

Consequently, the court granted permission for the petitioners’ counsel to consult their clients and report back with the outcome.

This newspaper learnt that during the subsequent proceedings on Monday, Tinubu’s lawyer argued that the provision of the Electoral Act referred to by the court was not absolute.

“There are issues raised in one petition that are not present in the others. The issues and evidentiary matters differ. It would be extremely difficult for us to consent to the consolidation of the petitions,” Tinubu’s lawyer added, urging the court not to grant the consolidation request.

The APC’s counsel, Mr. Charles Edosomwam, SAN, also argued against consolidation, emphasising the importance of justice.

“The justice factor is a crucial consideration before your lordships can arrive at a just conclusion in these matters. The grounds and issues raised by the parties are different. Consolidating the cases would make the trial unwieldy, and important issues would be lost in the complexity. It would also hinder the respondent’s ability to effectively defend the case. We believe that justice should not be sacrificed for convenience,” the APC stated.

However, the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) stated that while it did not oppose the proposed consolidation, it would leave the decision to the court’s discretion.

Apart from Alhaji Atiku Abubakar of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), who secured the second position in the election, and Mr. Peter Obi of the Labour Party (LP), who came third, the Allied Peoples Movement (APM) also filed a petition challenging the presidential election outcome, in which Bola Tinubu was declared the winner.

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