• Wednesday, April 24, 2024
businessday logo


Legal fireworks begin as Presidential Election Tribunal commences sitting 


Legal fireworks at the Presidential Election Petition Tribunal, where presidential candidate of the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) in the February 23 presidential election, Alhaji Atiku Abubakar and his party are challenging the outcome of the election, will commence on Wednesday, May 8.

The tribunal is now prepared to hear the petitions filed by Atiku and the PDP and three other political parties and their presidential candidates against the victory of President Muhammadu Buhari and his party, the All Progressives Congress (APC), who were declared winners of the now disputed election.

A statement by the Media Officer of the Court of Appeal Saadatu Musa Kachalla, on Tuesday, said that the “Presidential Election Petition Tribunal Panel will begin its inaugural session on Wednesday, 8th May 2019 at the Abuja Division courtroom. Time 9.00am”.

The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) had declared Buhari and his party as the winners of the election.

Atiku, PDP and the others in their various petitions are seeking the nullification of Buhari’s victory on allegations of widespread rigging, violations of the Electoral Act, suppression of voters, violence, among other electoral malpractices.

The other petitioners include, the Hope Democratic Party (HDP) and its presidential candidate, Chief Ambrose Owuru; Peoples Democratic Movement (PDM) and its presidential candidate, Pastor Aminchi Habu and the Coalition for Change (C4C) and its presidential candidate, Jeff Ojinka.

Atiku in his petition specifically asked the tribunal to disqualify Buhari on the grounds that he (Buhari) did not possess the requisite academic qualification to contest for the office of President.

The petition which is premised on five grounds alleged that Buhari lied about his academic qualification as well as schools attended in his form 001 submitted to INEC for purpose of contesting the 2019 presidential election.

Atiku and the PDP in grounds 1-3 of their petition specifically attacked the conduct of the February 23 presidential election conducted by INEC, they asked the tribunal on grounds 3-5 that all votes accredited to him by INEC should be declared “wasted votes”.

Habu and Ojinka in their separate petitions however prayed the tribunal to nullify the election of Buhari on grounds of alleged massive rigging in favour of Buhari and APC during election as well as substantial non compliance with the provisions of the law by the electoral umpire, INEC. Respondents in the petitions are President Buhari, APC and INEC.

However, unlike in all the other petitions, the C4C had included the Vice President, Prof. Yemi Osinbajo, as the 2nd Respondent, with APC and INEC, 3rd and 4th respectively in its petition.

The HDP and Owuru in their petition marked CA/EPT/PRE/001/2019, dated March 6 and filed March 7 is praying the tribunal to nullify the election and declaration of Buhari as the winner on the grounds that INEC has no power under any law to shift the February 16 date to 23.

The two petitioners who claimed to have been excluded from participating in the February 23 poll, averred that the election was invalid by reason of non compliance with the provisions of the Electoral Act which stipulates the conditions under which election can be lawfully postpone.

Their main grouse was that they were validly nominated for the 2019 general election, but were unlawfully excluded from the said elections by INEC which delisted their names and party logo from the ballot papers.

They however asserted that they will at the trial lead evidence and rely on the laws in support of their petitions to establish that the shifting of the election from February 16 to 23 was without the force of law and powers to do so.

Another grouse of the petitioners was that INEC placed a false version of their registered party logo on the ballot papers for elections and that cost them the chances of realising their political ambition in the 2019 general election.


Felix Omohomhion, Abuja