Presidential candidate of the Action Congress (AC) in the April 21 2007 election, Alhaji Atiku Abubakar, yesterday made his first appearance before the presidential poll tribunal in Abuja.
On his return to Nigeria from abroad last Sunday, Atiku had hinted that he would show up in person to join his All Nigerian Peoples Party (ANPP) counterpart, General Muhammadu Buhari (rtd), at the tribunal to follow up on their petitions seeking for the nullification of the April 21 presidential election.
Atiku, who sat directly beside Buhari while court proceedings lasted said he was optimistic that the tribunal would allow justice prevail.
“It is very exciting, interesting and satisfying. here and I am very optimistic. What do you expect when a matter is before the court? I am not bound to say anything,” he said.
Buhari, who received Atiku with much warmth, has been in attendance at the tribunal on a daily basis.
The tribunal yesterday granted prayers by lawyers to all parties in the matter that those persons who inspected documents obtained from the Independent Electoral Commission should be allowed to submit their findings through depositions.
This entails that witnesses to all parties in the case will be tendering their evidence through written statements deposed by them and not by oral evidence like before.
LEADERSHIP had reported exclusively that justices of the tribunal had invited senior lawyers to all parties in the suit for a conference within the fore walls of their chamber.
The conference, it was learnt, saw the judges and the lawyers arriving at certain conditions that would help dispose the matter before three months.
It was agreed that all parties would now rely on INEC documents tendered and not on the testimonies of witnesses any longer.
But lawyer to Buhari, Chief Mike Ahamba (SAN), told the court yesterday that he had some issues to iron out based on the conference on Monday.
He said counsel to all parties in the matter should meet first and thereafter meet with the judges at the chambers again.
The court stood the matter for about 35 minutes.
After conferring with ach other, the lawyers moved straight to the chambers of the judge. When the court resumed, it was gathered that the lawyers put their heads together in order to avoid what happened at the Kebbi State tribunal.
They contended that the idea of submitting documents without oral evidence or depositions was adopted at the Kebbi tribunal before all the lawyers.
But on the long run some lawyers dissociated themselves from the court.
This prompted lawyers to Buhari and Atiku to summon the meeting yesterday to agree that depositions of witnesses to their evidences were necessary. And their prayers were granted by the tribunal and adopted in the open court.
Buhari tendered documents from Kaduna and Katsina states and the matter was adjourned to November 12, 2007 to enable witnesses submit their depositions.
Besides the tribunal judge, Justice James Ogebe noted the judges would be busy next week at the All judges’ conference.