Alex Enumah in Abuja
The Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and its governorship candidate in the last governorship election in Kogi State, Mr. Musa Wada, yesterday listed a total of 259 witnesses they planned to call to prove their petition against the return of Mr. Yahaya Bello as the governor of the state.
The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) had declared Bello and his party, the All Progressives Congress (APC) winners of the November 16 governorship poll having won majority of votes cast at the election.
But Wada and PDP alleging rigging and other malpractices which according to them substantially marred the election, approached the Kogi State Governorship Election Petition Tribunal to nullify the return of Bello as governor.
Defendants in the petition include the INEC, Yahaya Bello and the APC.
The three-man tribunal headed by Justice Kashim Kaigama had on January 30, after listening to parties adjourned till yesterday for hearing proper on the pre-hearing applications.
At the resumed hearing, several applications were moved by parties while some were withdrawn without objection by the opposing party.
However, due to the fact that one of the motions was not ripe for hearing, the tribunal had extended the pre-hearing period till Thursday to conclude all pre-hearing applications.
The 14-day period stipulated by law for pre-hearing motions is expected to lapse on Wednesday, having started on January 30. The court however invoked the power vested on it by law to extend the period by one day. It also reserved rulings on the applications moved to a date to be communicated to parties.
Before adjourning the matter till Thursday, parties also took time to agree on the number of witnesses to be called as well as documents to be tendered in evidence.
Counsel to the petitioners, Mr. Jibril Okutepa (SAN), told the tribunal that his clients have listed 259 witnesses to give evidence in court within 14 days.
Meanwhile, counsel to the first respondent, Dr. Alex Izinyon (SAN), had announced that his client, (INEC) has listed 271 witnesses. Also, counsel to the second respondent, Chief Joseph B. Daudu (SAN) announced that his client, Bello has 120 witnesses on his list while counsel to APC, Ahmed Raji (SAN), announced a total of 250 witnesses.
Each of the respondents had prayed the court to allow them call all their witnesses within the stipulated 10 days.
In his ruling, Justice Kaigama reduced the number of days the petitioners have to call their witnesses to 10 days each while those of the respondents are reduced to six days each.
The pre-hearing session continues on Thursday.