The suggestion to combine the three remaining petitions being considered at the Presidential Election Petition Court where the result of the February 25 presidential election is being contested was rejected on Monday, May 22, by the All Progressive Congress and its standard bearer, Bola Tinubu.
Earlier on Saturday, Justice Haruna Tsammani, the panel’s chair, directed solicitors to the petition and advised them to review Section 50 of the Electoral Act before considering the possibility of combining the three remaining petitions into a single one.
It directed the counsels to consult their clients and report back the outcome of the meeting.
Upon the resumed sitting on the matter, Counsel for the APC, Charles Edosomwam, SAN, stated that consolidating the petitions would be against the interest of justice.
He said the justice factor is a major issue for consideration adding that “the grounds are different and the wide range of issues raised by parties are also different.”
He said, “Major issues before this court will be lost like a pin in a haystack” if the consolidation is considered.
“Moreover, it will be pragmatically impossible for the respondent to effectively defend the case.
“It is our position that the issue of justice cannot be sacrificed at the altar of convenience.”
Similar to this, Tinubu asserted through his legal team, which was lead by Akin Olujinmi SAN, that the consolidation of all the petitions would negatively impact his ability to respond to all of the accusations made against him.
The petitioners, he claimed, are requesting various reliefs.
Olujinmi said, “The issue of justice should be a restraint on the power of this court to exercise its discretion in granting the order for consolidation.”
He argued that the provision of the Electoral Act the court referred to, was not absolute.
“My lords, when the exercise of power is subject to the limitation of some conditions, then it cannot be said that the exercise is mandatory.”
“There are issues raised in one petition that are not there in others. The issues vary. The same goes for evidential issues that are based on pleadings that have been exchanged by parties in this case.
“We want to make it clear at this stage that it will be absolutely difficult for us to consent to consolidation of the petitions.”
The Independent National Electoral Commission asserted that it would defer to the court’s judgement on the consolidation question.
Nevertheless, the PEP Court had started the case with five resentful parties contesting the results of the 2023 presidential election.
The Peoples Democratic Party, the Labour Party, and the Allied Peoples Movement were the three remaining petitioners after the Action Alliance and the Action Peoples Party both withdrew their cases against Tinubu.