The election petition tribunal sitting in Jos, Plateau State, on Thursday, ordered the All Progressives Congress (APC) and its candidate, Haruna Maitalla, to open and close their defence on Friday.
Jonathan Dabo and his party, the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), are challenging the victory of Maitalla at the March 9 re-run for Jos North/Bassa Federal Constituency of Plateau.
The tribunal, which gave the order after accepting some documents tendered from the Bar by Maitalla as exhibits, said that time was against them and that there was need for them to open and close their defence in one day.
News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that when the case came up for hearing on Thursday, Maitalla, through his counsel, Garba Pwul, tendered some documents which were accepted and marked as exhibit R1 to R72.
Pwul prayed the tribunal to consider the documents as deemed read and consent given, a request which triggered serious arguments among parties involved in the matter.
He (Pwul) had claimed that by virtue of paragraph 46 (4) of the first schedule of the Electoral Act 2015, there was need for the petitioners to give their consent on the documents as deemed prayed so as to save time and in the interest of justice.
“I submit that inherent to that provision, consent can’t be withheld or refused to a party perpetually or whimsically because that will be killing the spirit of that provision, which is aimed at the petition’s expedition and speedy disposal.
“Your-lordship, consent can only be refused by the petitioners on sound and good reasons, which will advance the course of justice.
”I submit that the juris will still have the discretion to allow the documents tendered as prayed,“ Pwul solicited.
Leo Ebi, counsel to APC, the 3rd respondent, also supported Pwul’s line of argument and insisted that the petitioners cannot withhold their consent on the documents “tendered through the Bar by the 2nd respondent.”
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