BY IKECHUKWU NNOCHIRI
ABUJA — The Hope Democratic Party, HDP, yesterday, approached the Presidential Election Petition Tribunal in Abuja, with an application seeking to forestall the swearing-in of President Goodluck Jonathan and his deputy, Namadi Sambo, come May 29.
The party, which is challenging the victory of the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, in the April 16 presidential election, is praying the tribunal to go ahead and protect the ‘Res’ of the petitions pending before it, by restraining the duo from presenting themselves for swearing in on Sunday, pending when the substantive against them was heard and determined.
It maintained that unless the authenticity of the results that were declared in favour of the PDP by chairman of the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, Prof Attahiru Jega, on April 18, was ascertained, it would be unjust for anyone to be sworn into the controversial offices, adding that allowing such action would amount to granting the respondents an undue advantage over their petitioners.
The party is further asking the tribunal to issue an order of mandatory injunction directing INEC to suspend and withdraw the certificate of return already issued to the president and his deputy, pending when their victory was affirmed.
Meanwhile, the tribunal yesterday slated Friday to hear the application on its merit.
The party had earlier filed a petition before the tribunal, wherein it asked the court to nullify the April 16 presidential election and set aside INEC’s declaration of Jonathan as the winner of the election.
HDP insisted that the conduct of the presidential poll did not comply with either the Electoral Act 2010 or the 1999 Constitution as amended.
The party claimed that its presidential candidate, Chief Ambrose Owuru, garnered over 30 million votes which it said was diverted to the PDP.
Consequently, it is urging the court to look into the proof of evidence it had filed before it, with a view to ascertaining the veracity of its allegation.
It maintained that if it was found that the PDP engaged in electoral malpractices, to the disadvantage of its candidate, the tribunal should invoke its statutory powers and re-direct such votes to its bona-fide owner.
The party argued that INEC failed to secure the approval of the National Assembly before it summarily shifted the originally slated April 9 presidential poll, to April 16, an act it said contravened all the existing electoral statutes in the country.
It averred that for the shift in the date of the presidential election to be valid, that there ought to be prima-facie evidence of crisis, breach of peace or any natural disaster in the country, stressing that none of the aforementioned factors occasioned the change of the poll date.
Among those it listed as witnesses that would testify before the tribunal included its presidential candidate in the said poll, Chief Owuru.