Court dismisses PDP’s appeal on forensic expert

A gavel and sound block used by judges
A gavel and sound block used by judges in court

The Court of Appeal has dismissed the appeal against the ruling of the Kaduna State Governorship Election Tribunal, filed by the Peoples Democratic Party(PDP) and its gubernatorial candidate, Alhaji Isa Ashiru.

The appellants had gone to court, challenging the ruling of the tribunal for refusing the to allow a forensic expert to testify before it due to the expiration of the 14 day time frame given to them to present witnesses. 

The Appeal Court upheld the ruling of the tribunal on Thursday, arguing that the time line for the appellants to produce witnesses had lapsed on July 4.

Delivering Judgment on Thursday, Justice M. A. A Adumein stated that the tribunal has no powers to  extend the timeline given to parties to produce witnesses. 

According to the judgment, any attempt to extend the date will amount to a nullity.

It will be recalled that PDP and Ashiru had called a forensic expert to give evidence on the documents that were used by the Independent National Electoral Commission(INEC) on the March 9 election. 

Both counsel to Governor Nasir El Rufai and APC had raised objections to the motion, arguing that they were only served with the witness’s statement shortly before the court session began. 

According to the counsel, they needed time to read the statement in order to prepare for cross examination,  pleading that the tribunal should stop the witness from testifying. 

Counsel to PDP, Dr Paul Ananaba had rejected the objections on the ground that he had earlier informed the tribunal that he will subpoena a forensic expert. 

Ruling on the matter, the Tribunal Chairman , Justice Ibrahim Bako said that  the petitioners failed to present the statement within the stipulated time frame, therefore the witness has lost the right to testify.