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Tribunal dismisses HDP’s motion for additional witnesses

The Presidential Election Petitions Tribunal has dismissed the motion by Hope Democratic Party (HDP) seeking to bring additional witnesses in the petition against the February 23 election.

The chairman of the tribunal, Justice Mohammed Garba, yesterday, held that the motion was an abuse of court process.

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The judge ruled that under Paragraph 4(5) of the First Schedule to the Electoral Act, “list of witnesses is a fundamental accompaniment” of election petitions and could be amended.

The judge held that list of witness could be allowed to be brought at this stage of the petition, but granted the motion to correct words and clerical corrections in letters in the witnesses’ statements on oath. The judge also dismissed a second application by HDP seeking to contend against the postponement and rescheduling of the February 23 presidential election as unconstitutional.

HDP had argued that following the postponement of the election from February 16 to 23, Nigerians in a referendum voted for it with 50 million votes

In its ruling, the panel held that it had the constitutional mandate in Section 239(1) of the Constitution as the court of first instance to decide questions as to the election to the office of the president and vice president, adding that that did not include referendum.

“Having regard to the defect of the notice to contend, it ought to be dismissed. It appears to be alien to the law. It is not supported by any of the laws,” the panel said.

“The court will not engage in matters outside election issues.

“Process filed is an aberration, it is an abuse of court processes and it is hereby dismissed,” it held.

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