Election Tribunal adjourns LP’s case to Friday, 19th May

Justice Haruna Tsammani adjourned Peter Obi’s case pre-hearing against Tinubu to Friday, 19th May. This decision was made in view of the deadline for pre-hearing being Sunday, 21st May.

This action followed the quarrel between Peter Obi’s legal team and legal teams of Tinubu and the INEC over the lack of access to essential documents.

The presiding judge also stated that the adjournment should allow parties file and agree upon all documents to be objected to and not to.

Regarding the issues that led to the adjournment, Levi Onyeukwu and leader of Obi’s legal team told Tsammani that he wrote to INEC counsel, A.B Mahmoud, seeking his help. He explained the need for INEC to provide the documents needed for the case. However, he stated that there was no response from them.

Levi also said that his team wrote 5 letters to the electoral body, but they were all ignored.

Thus, they see a need to file an application mandating INEC to provide the documents.

However, the judge said that was not the business of the court if INEC denied Levi access to the documents.

Mahmoud told the court that he contacted the other counsels, and they agreed to form a team comprising counsels from all sides. According to him, the lawyers would manage the process and crosscheck documents that will be tendered without objection during the proceedings.

He said the committee was supposed to meet on Monday and Tuesday, but he was told on Monday that the LP’s legal representatives were not available. Levi said when he called him that he did not know they were supposed to be there.

Mahmoud asked that they reschedule to 3 PM but Levi said they won’t be available so a meeting was scheduled for 10 AM on Tuesday.

Regarding the inability to access documents, particularly from Sokoto and Rivers, Mahmoud revealed that Sokoto requested that they be paid N1.5 million to get the requested documents.

Wole Olanipekun, Tinubu’s legal team leader, claimed that Levi and his team abruptly left the meeting schedule for identification of documents. And they refused to respond to the motions served.

He explained that some time into the meeting, Levi and his team stood up and left, saying they would only be present again if the requested documents are made available. He thus stated that it is the LP legal team that will delay the court proceedings.

However, Levi countered the allegations and said his team did not walk out of the meeting.

The INEC’s counsel also claimed that Levi and his team have not received the documents because they are unwilling to pay the cost.

But Levi retorted that it is the INEC that is unwilling to release the documents, and not his team that is unwilling to pay for them. While acknowledging that some documents were given, he pointed out that they were not the ones requested; they were irrelevant to the case.

Tsammani then moved further hearing on the case to Friday, 19th May. In an interview with journalists, Levi claimed that INEC is against the live coverage of the proceedings. He alluded to the claim saying that he wonders what INEC is hiding from the public.