The Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, and its governorship candidate in the last gubernatorial election in Kogi State, Musa Wada, on Monday, said they would call a total of 259 witnesses for the petition they filed against the re-election of governor Yahaya Bello. They disclosed this at the resumed pre-hearing session of the Kogi State Governorship Election Petition Tribunal sitting in Abuja. The three-man panel of justices headed by Justice Kashim G. Kaigama, heard and reserved ruling on preliminary motions that were brought by all the parties on the petition marked EPT/KG/GOV/06/2019.
At the resumed hearing, several applications were moved by parties while some were withdrawn without objection by the opposing party. However, due to the fact that one of the motions was not ripe for hearing, the tribunal had extended the pre-hearing period till Thursday to conclude all pre-hearing applications.
The 14-day period stipulated by law for pre-hearing motions is expected to lapse on Wednesday, having started on January 30. The court however invoked the power vested on it by law to extend the period by one day. It also reserved rulings on the applications moved to a date to be communicated to parties.
Before adjourning the matter till Thursday, parties also took time to agree on the number of witnesses to be called as well as documents to be tendered in evidence. The counsel to the petitioners, Jibril Okutepa (SAN), told the tribunal that his clients have listed 259 witnesses to give evidence in court within 14 days. Meanwhile, the counsel to the first respondent, Dr. Alex Izinyon (SAN), had announced that his client, (INEC) has listed 271 witnesses.
Also, the counsel to the second respondent, Chief Joseph B. Daudu (SAN), announced that his client, Governor Bello, has 120 witnesses on his list, while the counsel to APC, Ahmed Raji (SAN), announced a total of 250 witnesses.
Each of the respondents had prayed the court to allow them call all their witnesses within the stipulated 10 days. In his ruling, Justice Kaigama reduced the number of days the petitioners have to call their witnesses to 10 days each, while those of the respondents are reduced to six days each. The pre-hearing session continues on Thursday.
PDP and Wada filed a motion on January 24, through their lawyer, Mr. Jubril Okutekpa, SAN, seeking a declaration that the 2nd Respondent, Governor Bello, did not secure majority of lawful votes cast at the election. They are also praying the tribunal to issue an order nullifying the Certificate of Return the INEC issued to Governor Bello and declare that Wada scored majority of votes cast at the election and fulfilled that having fulfilled requirements of section 179(2)(a) and (b) of the Constitution. Alternatively, the Petitioners are praying for an order directing INEC to conduct supplementary election in polling units where elections were cancelled, noting that the margin of lead between the 2nd Respondent and the 1st Petitioner, being less than the registered voters in the cancelled polling units. They further sought for a declaration that the Kogi governorship election that held on November 16, 2019, and the subsequent declaration and return of the 2nd Respondent, are voided by corrupt practices in breach of the provisions of the Electoral Act, 2010 (As amended), which substantially affected the results of the election.