The Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and its governorship candidate in Ebonyi, Chief Ifeanyi Chukwuma Odii, will call at least 60 witnesses in their petition challenging Governor Francis Nwifuru’s victory in the March 18 election in the state.
The counsel for the petitioners, Chief Gordy Uche (SAN), told the state governorship election petition tribunal headed by Justice A. L. Ogunmoye during the pre-hearing session on Friday in Abuja.
The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) on March 20 declared Nwifuru of the All Progressives Congress (APC) as the winner of the election having garnered 199,131 votes to defeat Odii and 16 others in the exercise.
The petitioners had in the suit marked: EPT/EB/02/2023 dated April 6 and filed on April 7 maintained that Nwifuru did not secure the majority of lawful votes cast in the election.
They alleged that the election was marred by fraud and substantial non-compliance with the Electoral Act, 2022.
The petitioners also argued that the governor did not validly resign from the PDP before he was nominated as the APC candidate for the election.
At Friday’s proceeding, Uche told the panel the petitioners would require at least three weeks to prove their case against the APC and its candidate in the election.
Responding, the INEC’s lawyer, Oladipo Tolani, said the commission would call only one witness.
He also urged the panel to direct the petitioners to streamline the number of witnesses in order to guide against repetition.
Nwifuru’s lawyer, Onyechi Ikpeazu (SAN), however, said if the petitioners call 60 witnesses, they would be inclined to call the same number of witnesses.
“If they are calling 60 witnesses, if the need be, we are also calling 60 witnesses.
“We will call experts and subpoena witnesses.
“We will not go beyond what they have done. We require not less than 10 days to call the 60 witnesses if the need be,” he stated.
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