The Presidential Election Petitions Tribunal recently announced that it has rejected 10 out of the 13 witnesses presented by Peter Obi, the Presidential candidate of the Labour Party. Justice Haruna Tsammani, the presiding judge, made this declaration during the delivery of judgment on the substantive petition filed by Obi and the LP.
According to Justice Tsammani, Obi called a total of 13 witnesses, identified as PW1 to PW13. Out of these witnesses, only three had their statements on oath filed alongside the petition. The remaining 10 witnesses were subpoenaed, and their statements on oath were only submitted after the hearing had commenced.
Justice Tsammani emphasized that section 285 of the Nigerian constitution, as well as section 137(7) of the Electoral Act 2022 and other relevant provisions, stipulate that every witness statement on oath must be filed together with the petition. He further highlighted that, based on the authority of the Supreme Court, once the 21-day window for filing an election petition has elapsed, the content of the petition cannot be amended. Consequently, no additional statement on oath can be filed after the close of this specified window, as the respondents would not have the opportunity to respond.
It is worth noting that the petitioners were fully aware of the legal provisions regarding the filing of witness statements on oath. Despite this knowledge, they proceeded to present 10 witnesses without having their statements on oath filed earlier with the petition.