The Presidential Election Petition Court in Abuja on Friday rejected an attempt by a lawyer, Oba Maduabuchi, to represent the Labour Party and its presidential candidate, Peter Obi.
Awa Kalu, a Senior Advocate of Nigeria, had announced legal representation for the Labour Party and its presidential candidate, Peter Obi, when Mr Maduabuchi suddenly stood up to also announce his appearance for the petitioners.
â€œI have been instructed to represent the petitioners,â€ Mr Maduabuchi said without disclosing the name of who briefed him to represent the party and Mr Obi.
His action drew murmurs from Labour Party supporters in the courtroom. Mr Maduabuchi. The lawyer is believed to be from the camp of Lamidi Apapa, who had emerged as the partyâ€™s chair following a court order suspending Julius Abure as the partyâ€™s substantive chair.
Reacting to the situation, the chairman of the five-member panel, Haruna Tsammani, said the court would not take two legal representations for the petitioners.
â€œYou didnâ€™t file a petition. So, you cannot announce appearance for the petitioners,â€ Mr Tsammani retorted, to the cheers of people in the courtroom who thundered, â€œas the court pleases.â€
Lending his voice to the issue, a member of the panel, Abba Mohammed, said the lawyer should have advised his client â€œthat you cannot have two counsel representing a client in one suit.â€
The Labour Party has been enmeshed in a leadership crisis that has led to the suspension of its national chairman, Julius Abure.
Abure Vs Apamba controversy Following Mr Abureâ€™s suspension by a Federal Capital Territory High Court in Abuja in April, Lamidi Apapa who was earlier suspended by the party, assumed headship of the Labour Party.
On Wednesday, Mr Apapa clashed with Akin Osuntokun, Director General of Peter Obiâ€™s presidential campaign council at the court.
He was later mobbed by riotous LP supporters shortly after Wednesdayâ€™s proceedings. He defiantly returned to court on Friday.
Mr Maduabuchiâ€™s conduct at Fridayâ€™s proceedings might not be unconnected to the crisis rocking the party.
There have been insinuations concerning plots by Mr Apapa to take over LPâ€™s petition with a view to withdrawing it from court.
But he denied the allegation at a press briefing on Wednesday in Abuja.
On Friday, the court heard Mr Obiâ€™s request concerning a live broadcast of the courtâ€™s proceedings.
Thereafter, the court adjourned until 22 May for ruling on the application for a live broadcast of the courtâ€™s sittings.
The court heard similar application by the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and its presidential candidate, Atiku Abubakar, and reserved its ruling for a yet-to-be announced.
Livy Uzoukwu, a SAN, had filed the petition on behalf of LP and Mr Obi challenging the victory of the All Progressives Congress (APC) Bola Tinubuâ€™s victory in the 25 February election.
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In his preliminary response to the petition, the APC and Mr Tinubu prayed the court to dismiss the petition for lacking in merit.