Pressure Mounts on Peter Obi to Appoint Ikpeazu as Lead Counsel at Presidential Tribunal

Supporters of Peter Obi, the Labour Party’s presidential candidate in the February 25 election, are reportedly urging him to appoint Dr. Onyechi Ikpeazu SAN as the lead counsel for his legal team.

POLITICS NIGERIA reports that the team are currently challenging the outcome of the 2023 presidential election, which declared Bola Tinubu as the president-elect.

Sources indicate that members of the “Obidient Movement” have expressed dissatisfaction with the current leaders of Obi’s legal battle.

One group leader stated, “Some of us lack confidence in the current team leaders. We were hoping that Ikpeazu would lead the team due to his history with Obi and his past legal victories,” The Whistler Newspaper reports.

These sentiments within Obi’s camp were further reinforced on May 10 during a session at the Presidential Election Petitions Court in Abuja. Balami Isaac, Deputy National Campaign Manager of the Obi-Datti Presidential Campaign Council, referred to Ikpeazu as “our lead counsel” in a video shared on his Twitter page, despite the fact that Livy Uzoukwu SAN currently leads Obi’s legal team.

“The Obidients are actually hopeful. They believe that God’s grace is upon you. We are here, we are in the court, guys. This is our lead counsel; a father, a mentor, a mover, a shaker. Guys, don’t be scared,” Isaac said in the video.

However, Ikpeazu, present in the video, downplayed the comment, stating that legal teams traditionally follow seniority, and Livy Uzoukwu SAN is the current leader of Obi’s team.

“In fact, you know we have a very traditional profession, where the oldest lawyer in a team is the leader of the team. The oldest lawyer in our team in terms of elevation to Senior Advocate of Nigeria is Livy Uzoukwu. So, Livy Uzoukwu is actually the leader of the team. Awa Kalu is supporting him, and I am also supporting him. We are all working together, but in terms of who takes the ultimate decision, it is Livy Uzoukwu,” Ikpeazu explained in the video.

This newspaper learnt that during the initial stages of litigation, Ikpeazu was the lead counsel who filed an ex parte application before the Court of Appeal, seeking an order to inspect INEC materials, including the Bimodal Voter Accreditation System. The purpose was to substantiate claims of alleged ballot rigging in the 2023 presidential election.

However, Uzoukwu eventually filed Obi’s petition as the lead counsel, with Awa Kalu and Ikpeazu assuming the second and third positions in the legal team’s lineup.

Sources indicate that supporters believe Ikpeazu’s legal reputation in election-related cases is substantial, particularly following the recent Supreme Court judgment that upheld the election of Osun State Governor, Ademola Adeleke.

They argue that Ikpeazu, as the third member, has “no responsibility” in Peter Obi’s case, advising the LP candidate to restructure his legal team for better performance and to focus more on the issues instead of filing “frivolous” motions.

It is worth recalling that the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) announced on March 1 that Tinubu received 8,794,726 votes, while Atiku Abubakar of the Peoples Democratic Party and Peter Obi of the Labour Party obtained 6,984,520 and 6,101,533 votes, respectively.

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