The All Progressives Congress (APC) and its presidential candidate in the February 25 election, Bola Ahmed Tinubu, have kicked against the proposal for the consolidation of the petitions challenging their return as joint winners of the election.
The Presidential Election Petition Court (PEPC) at the sitting on Monday had proposed to consolidate the three petitions filed by the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and its presidential candidate, Atiku Abubakar, the Labour Party, LP, and its presidential candidate Peter Obi and the Allied People’s Movement (APM).
The proposal made by the Chairman of the Court, Justice Haruna Simon Tsammani, was predicated on the grounds that the petitions are relating to the same election and the returns and to ensure expeditious hearing of the petitions.
However, in fierce opposition to the proposal, the APC and Tinubu insisted that they would be greatly jeopardized and the interest of justice would not be served if the request for the petitions consolidation is granted.
APC, through its counsel, Charles Edosomwen SAN, argued that it would not be able to defend its victory perfectly if the petitions are consolidated.
Specifically, the party said it would not be able to engage the huge number of witnesses already lined up to testify against it and its presidential candidate in the election especially on the myriad of allegations against them.
On his part, Tinubu, represented by Chief Akin Olujimi SAN, faulted paragraph 50 of the 5th Schedule of the Electoral Act 2022 which empowers Election Petition Court to consolidate petitions if they are against same election and same declaration of winner.
Tinubu warned that the law should be invoked in the hearing of the petitions challenging his declaration as the President-elect adding that it is not mandatory for the three petitions to be merged for effective hearing.
He argued that different issues were raised in the petitions against him and would require that the petitions be heard differently.
Kabir Masari, who is the 5th defendant in the petition instituted against Tinubu by the Allied People’s Movement, APM, also vehemently objected to the consolidation, claiming that the proposal would cause confusion, chaos and embarrassment.
Masari, through his lawyer, Roland Otaru SAN, maintained that even though the Electoral Act permits consolidation of petitions, the interest of justice would not be served in the instant petitions.
However, the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, and the APM supported the proposal and pleaded with the court to discontenance the objections and consolidate the three petitions for quick hearing.
Meanwhile, Chairman of the Court Justice Haruna Simon Tsammani fixed May 23 to deliver ruling.