The Independent National Electoral Commission said on Monday that it would not call any witness to defend its case in respect of the petition filed by the Peoples Democratic Party and its presidential candidate, Alhaji Atiku Abubakar.
Atiku and his party are by their petition challenging the outcome of February 23, 2019 presidential election which INEC declared was won by President Muhammadu Buhari and his All Progressives Congress.
The petitioners had rested their case with 62 witnesses on July 19 after which the five-man tribunal led by Justice Mohammed Garba adjourned further proceedings till Monday for INEC to open its defence.
But when called upon by the tribunal to open his case on Monday, INEC’s lawyer, Yunus Usman (SAN), said it would not be necessary on the grounds that the evidence extracted from the petitioners’ witnesses during cross-examination was in support of the commission’s case.
He said, “We have painstakingly reviewed the evidence of petitioners’ witnesses.
“We have also painstakingly studied the petitioners’ evidence under cross-examination, which supports our defence and our denial in consonance with our pleadings.
“My lords, we do not see the need to waste your lordship’s precious time by repeating what their witnesses have repeated under cross-examination.
“In that circumstance, we will not call any witness to help them prove their case.
“We, therefore, rely on the evidence of their witness under cross-examination.”
Responding, Buhari’s lawyer, Chief Wole Olanipekun (SAN), requested to be allowed to open his client’s case at 2:00 p.m. on Tuesday.
APC’s lawyer, Lateef Fagbemi (SAN), said his decision on whether or not to call witnesses would depend on the case to be presented by Buhari’s legal team.
On his part, the petitioners’ lawyer, Dr. Livy Uzoukwu (SAN), thanked INEC’s legal team for not calling witnesses.
“I profusely thank my brother and friend for deciding not to call any witness,” he said.
The proceedings were adjourned till Tuesday for Buhari to open his defence.