The All Progressive Congress and its standard bearer, Bola Tinubu, on Monday, rejected the proposal to consolidate the three surviving petitions being heard at the Presidential Election Petition Court wherein the outcome of the February 25 presidential election is being challenged.
Earlier on Saturday, the Chairman of the panel, Justice Haruna Tsammani, referred counsels to the petition to consult paragraph 50 of the 1st Schedule of the Electoral Act on the idea of consolidating the three surviving petitions to determine them as 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.”
In a similar vein, Tinubu, through his team of lawyers led by Akin Olujinmi SAN stated that consolidating all the petitions would strongly affect his ability to defend all the issues that were raised against him.
He asserted that the petitioners are seeking different 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.”
However, the Independent National Electoral Commission said it would leave the issue of the consolidation to the court’s discretion.
Although, the PEP Court had begun the proceeding with five aggrieved parties challenging the outcome of the 2023 presidential election.
However, the Action Alliance withdrew its case, with the Action Peoples Party following suit two days later, thus leaving the Peoples Democratic Party, the Labour Party, and the Allied Peoples Movement as the three surviving petitioners.