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Tinubu, APC reject move for consolidation of election petitions

The All Progressives Congress (APC) and its presidential candidate, Bola Tinubu, on Monday, opposed the consolidation of the petitions challenging his victory in the February 25 general election.

At the resumed hearing to consider the matter of consolidation, counsels to Mr Tinubu, Akin Olujimi, SAN, and the APC, Charles Edosomwa, SAN, opposed the move to consolidate the three different petitions.

They insisted that merging all the petitions would affect their ability to defend all the issues raised by the petitioners effectively.

The senior lawyers maintained that the petitioners did not only raise various issues but were seeking different reliefs.

Shehu Abubakar announced an appearance for the Allied Peoples Party (APM), Kenny Pinhero, SAN, represented the Independent National Electoral Court (INEC).

Mr Abubakar said the party would not be opposed to the consolidation of the petition, and counsel to INEC noted that he was neither in support nor opposition but left the decision at the discretion of the tribunal.

The counsel to INEC said they were neutral on the issue.

In opposing the application for consolidation of the petition, the APC said the interest of justice would not be served.

He held this because the issues raised were different because of the variance of pleadings.

“The justice factor is a good reason for your lordships not to consolidate the petition.

“The second respondent is afraid of being prejudiced,” he said.

Mr Olujimi submitted that the third and fourth respondents also opposed the consolidation of the petitions.

He adopted the submissions of counsel to the second respondent, insisting that though paragraph 50 of the 1st Schedule to the Electoral Act, 2022, donated an in-built discretion to the court, however, he argued that such discretion was not mandatory.

“The interest of justice should be a restraint on the power of the court to exercise discretion in granting consolidation.

“The issue canvassed in each petition varies,” Mr Olujimi said.

For the fifth respondent, Rowland Otaru adopted the submissions of counsel for the second to fourth respondents.

(NAN)

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