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Presidential Election: Court fixes Monday for ruling on Obi’s request for live streaming of proceedings

Lawyer's attempt to represent LP stopped

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CHIGOZIE IKPO, Abuja

The Presidential Election Petition Court (PEPC) has reserved ruling till Monday on the application by Peter Obi and the Labour Party (LP) for live streaming of the proceedings of the Court. 

The five-member panel of the court, led by Justice Haruna Tsammani announced this after lawyers of the parties adopted their various processes.

The Counsel to Obi, Awa Kalu (SAN) urged the court to grant the application in the interest of the public.

Abubakar Mahmoud (SAN) for INEC, Wole Olanipekun (SAN) for Bola Tinubu and Kashim Shettma, and Adeniyi Akintola (SAN) for the APC moved their various counter affidavits and prayed the court to reject the application for being without merit and constituting a distraction to the court.

Justice Tsammani adjourned the ruling on the application for Monday, May 22. 

Earlier, the panel rejected an attempt by a lawyer, Oba Maduabuchi (SAN), to represent the Labour Party and its presidential candidate, Peter Obi at the hearing. 

Drama ensued as parties to the petition were called to identify themselves and Mr. Peter Obi stood up and represented himself, 

Awa Kalu (SAN) then announced legal representation for the Labour Party and Obi but Mr Maduabuchi suddenly stood up to also announce his appearance for the petitioners.

“I have been instructed to represent the petitioners,” Mr Maduabuchi said without disclosing the name of who briefed him to represent the party, drawing murmurs from Labour Party supporters in the courtroom.

The lawyer is believed to be from the camp of Lamidi Apapa, who had emerged as LP factional chair following a court order suspending Julius Abure as the party’s substantive chair.

Reacting to the situation, the chairman of the five-member panel, Haruna Tsammani, said the court would not take two legal representations for the petitioners.

“You didn’t file a petition. So, you cannot announce appearance for the Petitioners, you can either leave or you stay” Mr Tsammani retorted, to the cheers of people in the courtroom who thundered, “as the court pleases.”

Lending his voice to the issue, a member of the panel, Abba Mohammed, said the lawyer should have advised his client “that you cannot have two counsel representing a client in one suit.”

The Labour Party has been enmeshed in a leadership crisis that has led to the suspension of its national chairman, Julius Abure.

Mr Maduabuchi’s conduct at Friday’s proceedings might not be unconnected to the crisis rocking the party.

There have been insinuations concerning plots by Mr Apapa to take over LP’s petition with a view to withdrawing it from the court, allegations which he denied at a press briefing on Wednesday in Abuja.

Mr Obi who came third in the February 25 presidential election urged the court to nullify Mr Tinubu’s victory at the polls over failure to satisfy the requirements of the Electoral Act 2022. 

In his preliminary response to the petition, the APC and Mr Tinubu prayed to the court to dismiss the petition for lacking in merit.

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