Thursday, September 3

Election Petitions Tribunal: Peterside’s 200 witnesses to face Wike’s 300

Hearing of the main petition filed by the All Progressives Congress and its candidate in the April 11, 2015 governorship election in Rivers State, Dakuku Peterside, to challenge the victory of Governor Nyesom Wike of the Peoples Democratic Party, will begin Thursday (today).

The report of the pre-hearing session of the state Election Petitions Tribunal sitting in Abuja obtained by our correspondent on Wednesday indicates that Peterside has proposed to call 200 witnesses to prove his case while Wike’s witnesses were pegged to 300.

The report showed that Wike, through his counsel, Mr. Emmanuel Ukala (SAN), had sought to be allowed to call “as many witnesses as possible” within the 10 days that would be allocated to prove his own case.

But the tribunal decided to peg the number of witnesses.

Wike would be allowed to call to 300 while it approved the number of witnesses requested by the other parties through their respective lawyers.

With the order of the tribunal, the Independent National Electoral Commission, which is the first respondent to the petition, would be allowed to call as many as 400 witnesses while, the PDP would have the opportunity to call 200.

The tribunal also directed that parties would be given 30 minutes to lead their star witnesses in evidence, 40 minutes for the cross-examination of such witnesses and 15 minutes for re-examination.

It also allotted five minutes for leading ordinary witnesses in evidence, 10 minutes to cross-examine them and five minutes for re-examination.

The directives of the tribunal also read in part, “Counsel are directed to agree on documents which are not being opposed to, such that documents shall be tendered as a bundle from the bar.

“To this end, lawyers are advised to come to court early before the sitting of the tribunal so as to sort this out.

“The sitting of the tribunal shall be 10am prompt and from day to day including weekends if necessary.”

The hearing of the main petition scheduled to begin on Thursday is coming about three months after it was filed due to various interlocutory applications separately filed by the three respondents.

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