By Abdullahi Faruk Birnin Kebbi
Kebbi State national and state assembly election petition tribunal sitting in Brinin Kebbi under the chairmanship of Honourable Justice Margret Opara have dismissed Senator Abubakar Atiku Bagudu’s application filed via counsel on a petition with suit
EPT/KBS/SEN/02/2023 challenging the victory of senator Muhammadu Adamu Aliero, his party PDP and
Independent National Electoral Commission(INEC) for an application seeking for tribunal to grant leave to file in additional list of witnesses and additional documents to add to the earlier evidence pleaded before the said tribunal.
After the Petitioners filed their application and it was served on the 1st, 2nd and 3rd respondants they also reply by filing their counter affidavits on the Petitioners application. Both petitioners and the respondants canvassed their arguments. They equally address the tribunal on issue canvassed by the petitioners.
The tribunal in its Ruling held that by the virtue of Paragraph 41 (8) of the First Schedule to the Electoral Act, 2022, the Petitioners have a duty to show exceptional circumstances for the grant of their application. Equally the Court noted that the 1st Respondent in its Counter Affidavit to the application stated that the Order of Inspection was granted by the Honourable Tribunal on 14th March, 2023, but the Petitioners waited for more than 60 days precisely on 17th May, 2023 to comply with the Order of the Honourable Tribunal. The Petitioners did not file any further affidavit in response and the said facts in the 1st Respondent’s Counter Affidavit are deemed admitted. The Petitioners, in the circumstance, have failed to show any exceptional circumstances for the grant of their application being responsible for the delay in conducting the Inspection ordered by the Honourable Tribunal.
Tribunal further held that the application to file additional list of witnesses and call additional witnesses and to tender additional documents is not permitted by the Electoral Act, 2022. The grant of the Petitioners application to file additional list of witnesses and call additional witnesses will be akin to allowing the Petitioners to amend their Petition which is contrary to the Provisions of the 1999 Constitution (as amended).
The chairman of the tribunal Honourable Justice Margret Opara said that the application to file additional list of witnesses and call additional witnesses was therefore dismissed for lacking in merit.
Tribunal adjourned to 6th July, 2023 for continuation of Hearing. The Honourable Tribunal reminded the Petitioners’ counsel to consider the time for the Petitioners to close their case.