President Muhammadu Buhari will today open defence against the petition filed by the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and its presidential candidate, Atiku Abubakar.
Counsel to Buhari, Wole Olanipekun (SAN), informed the tribunal that he would be calling witnesses from 02:00pm today.
President Buhari had indicated that he would call 254 witnesses to challenge Atiku’s allegations of manipulation of result; use of Activate Technologies Limited owned by a member of the APC, Mohammed Musa, for printing of PVCs; vote buying through the Trader-Moni scheme; manipulation of security agencies and militarisation of election; manipulation of card readers; and allegation of manipulation of accreditation and collation processes, among others.
The president had pleaded that the tribunal lacked the jurisdiction to hear the petition of Atiku and PDP challenging his academic qualification to contest the election by virtue of Section 31(5) and (6) of the Electoral Act 2010 (as amended), adding that it was only the Federal High Court that could determine the issue.
The president will also contend that Atiku’s claim that he was not validly elected, and was not qualified to contest the election were “conjunctive, thus, rendering them incompetent.”
On his qualification to contest the election, the president intends to take the witnesses through a reel out of his military trainings and experiences as a head of state and visitor to all federal universities, among others.
The lawyers had agreed during the pre-hearing modalities that the petitioners would take 10 days to conclude their submission, while the defence would take six days each.
The parties also agreed that they would spend five minutes to take evidence in chief from ordinary witnesses, while examination of expert and subpoenaed witnesses would take 20 minutes, and any re-examination would take three minutes.
Buhari’s decision to immediately open his defence was sequel to INEC’s declaration that it would not be calling any witness in the matter because there was no need to do so.