The SC, this morning, set up the issues for determination in the 2020 election petition. The Court also provided a roadmap for the trial, which is set to begin on January 26, and ordered the parties to provide their lists of witnesses and any witness statements.
The Court also ordered the Respondents to file arguments in support of their request for the petition to be dismissed “in limine” (without a trial) and the petitioner to respond to the arguments. The Court indicated that a ruling on this motion will be in the final judgment, paving the way for a trial.
These orders drew strong objections from the petitioner who argued that the Court was impermissibly truncating the discovery process and imposing timelines that are oblivious of the circumstances and thereby potentially prejudicing his case.
An election petition, like many civic cases, has four phases: (1) Pleadings; (2) Discovery; (3) Trial and (4) Post-trial.
In the pleadings phase, the petitioner basically files a complaint, stating how he has been wronged and what reliefs he seeks. The respondents then answer the complaints.
Then comes the discovery phase where the parties ask each other and any relevant third parties questions about facts and evidence pertaining to the case. The purpose of this phase is to narrow the issues for trial and for the parties to sharpen their trial strategies.
In the trial phase, the parties bring witnesses to the Court to give testimony to support their case. The post-trial phase is devoted to issues, such as whether the judgment should be reviewed.
Today’s banter was about the intricate relationship between discovery and trial. The petitioner’s argument was that they had outstanding discovery requests and therefore it was improper for the Court to decide on the issues and ask them to produce their lists of witnesses and their statements.
To the petitioner, as long as discovery was ongoing, it was unjust for the Court to ask for witnesses and settle on issues. After all, the witnesses and the issues and their trial strategy are necessarily informed by the outcome of the discovery.
The Court, on the other hand, pointed out the strict timelines that it had to operate under the amended rules. These timelines necessitated that matters be expedited.
However, the petitioner sought, unsuccessfully, to draw the Court’s attention to the fact that the amended rules provided 5 days for discovery and pre-trial and that in any event case management required a conversation not mere directives.
The petitioner is also seeking a review of the Court’s ruling on their interrogatories. It is expected that this review might be dispensed with tomorrow.
Meanwhile, the CJ caught Dominic Akuritinga Ayine making faces and took strong exception to it. He apologized accordingly. One more reason to wear a mask —- nobody will notice if you make faces!
All bad things must come to an end. The curtain on the accidental presidency in USA will be drawn today. BIGLY!!!!
So too must the willful or negligent disenfranchisement of #SALL come to an end by holding immediate elections and holding accountable the tortfeasors.