A mild drama played out at the Presidential Election Petition Court, PEPC, sitting in Abuja on Friday, as the Lamidi Apapa-led faction of the Labour Party, LP, briefed a Senior Advocate of Nigeria, SAN, to announce appearance for the party.
Immediately the petition the party and its candidate, Mr Peter Obi filed to challenge the outcome of the presidential election that held on February 25, was called up for hearing and lawyers were asked to announce their appearances, Chief Oba Maduabuchi, SAN, stood up and told the court that he was briefed to represent the LP.
The senior lawyer addressed the court after Prof. Awa Kalu, SAN, who appeared alongside five others SANs, had already announced his presence as counsel for the petitioners.
Maduabuchi, SAN, told the court that he was instructed by the party to appear on its behalf and to represent it in the matter.
However, the Justice Haruna Tsammani-led five-member panel of the court declined to record his appearance.
“You did not file this petition. Let the person that filed the case announce appearance. We cannot record you,” Justice Tsammani held.
Another member of the panel berated Maduabuchi, SAN, for accepting the brief when he was aware that the party already had its team of lawyers.
“As a learned silk, you should know better and you should have told whoever that briefed you that there is another lawyer handling the matter,” a member of the panel added.
Realising that he would not be allowed to take over the case, Maduabuchi, said he would go back and relate what happened in court to his client.
“That is not our business. You can either leave the court or sit and observe the proceedings,” Chairman of the panel, Justice Tsammani added.
Earlier, Obi, who was in court, had announced himself as the representative of the petitioners.
Remarkably, the two factional Chairmen of the party, Julius Abure and Lamidi Apapa, were both in court for the matter.
It will be recalled that irate youths had on Tuesday, attacked Apapa at the court premises, accusing him of yielding himself as a tool in the hands of people seeking to disintegrate the party.
Apapa, who denied the allegation that he received N500million to scuttle Obi’s case against Tinubu, was subsequently taken into protective custody by security operatives attached to the court.