Former governor of Anambra State and Vice Presidential Candidate of the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) in the last presidential election, Mr. Peter Obi, has praised constitutional lawyer, Prof. Nwabueze (SAN) for defying age and health challenges to appear as the lead counsel for the PDP and its presidential candidate, Alhaji Atiku Abubakar at the Presidential Election Petition Tribunal in Abuja on Thursday.
“It was reassuring that notwithstanding his age and health challenges, Prof Ben Nwabueze (SAN), patriot and foremost constitutional lawyer, led our legal team at the commencement of trial at the Presidential Election Petition, today,” Obi said.
Nwabueze was wheeled into the courtroom on Thursday morning.
Shortly after the Justice Mohammed Garba-led tribunal began sitting about 10.40am, he appealed to the court to be allowed to be seated while addressing the bench.
His request was granted by the tribunal.
He announced the names other lawyers appearing with him before eventually handing over the role to Dr. Livy Uzoukwu (SAN), who had from the beginning, been leading the petitioners’ team.
Subsequently, Yunus Usman (SAN) announced appearance as the lead counsel for the Independent National Electoral Commission; Mike Igbokwe (SAN) for President Muhammadu Buhari, and Yakubu Maikyau (SAN), for the All Progressives Congress (APC).
After the bar closed the announcement of the appearance, Nwabueze expressed gratitude to the tribunal for granting him his first request. He said the, “The determination of the petition will certainly impact on future elections and constitutionalism in the country.”
Noting that, “notwithstanding of my my age and attendant health challenges”, he attended the proceedings “to underscore the importance” of the case.
On closing his remark, he took permission to leave the courtroom
Meanwhile, the five-man panel of the Tribunal led by Justice Garba, dismissed the respondents’ request for the suspension of the proceedings on the grounds of alleged late filing and serving of the petitioners’ schedule of documents on them shortly before sitting began on Thursday.
The tribunal said that the agreements reached between the parties at the pre-hearing session concluded earlier on Wednesday, had stipulated that trial would commence on Thursday.
The PDP and Atiku opened trial at the Presidential Election Petition Tribunal in Abuja in respect of their petition challenging the victory of President Muhammadu Buhari, at the February 23, 2019 poll.
Dr. Uzoukwu (SAN), opened the trial by tendering electoral document, Form EC8C for Agaie Local Government Area of Niger State.
The tendering was opposed by Buhari and APC’s lawyers, but as earlier agreed among the parties, the lawyers said they would give the reasons for their objection to the document at the final address stage.
Justice Garba, who delivered the ruling of the tribunal added that the agreement reached which was adopted at the tribunal’s directive on Wednesday did also not make the service of the schedule of documents a condition-precedent for the commencement of trial.
He added that the respondents could also not validly claimed to have been ambushed by the alleged late filing of the schedule since the documents listed in it had been referenced in the petition filed and served on the respondents months ago.