By Ikechukwu Nnochiri
ABUJA — President Goodluck Jonathan and the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, yesterday, urged the presidential election petition tribunal sitting in Abuja, to compel the Congress for Progressive Change, CPC, to furnish them with specific particulars of the alleged electoral malpractices that it said culminated to the failure of its candidate, Maj.-Gen. Muhammadu Buhari, in the April 16 presidential election.
President Jonathan, who argued through his lead counsel, Chief Wole Olanipekun, SAN, insisted that availing him with a further and better particulars of all the accusatory averments that were made by the CPC in its petition before the tribunal, would aid his team of lawyers to properly defend his mandate in court.
Whereas Olanipekun took his time to canvass the said application which was filed on May 20, counsel to the PDP, Chief J.K Gadzama, who equally filed a similar application on May 22, for the exigency of time, agreed to withdraw his own motion and rely on the outcome of that of President Jonathan in view of the fact that the reliefs sought by both respondents were principally the same.
His withdrawal paved the way for intense legal fireworks that subsequently ensured between lead counsel to the CPC, Mr Ebun Shofunde, SAN, and counsel to Jonathan.
After listening to submissions from all the parties, the panel in a short ruling that was delivered by its head, Justice Salami, held that “the petitioners’ motion dated 15th May and filed 16th May, is hereby granted for all the parties to the extent of the agreement signed by all the parties on 24th May”.
Sequel to the ruling, five of the eight applications that were hitherto pending before the tribunal, were accordingly withdrawn and struck out yesterday.
Three of the disposed applications were filed by the INEC and the PDP, while a preliminary objection that was raised by the CPC against INEC, as well as its application for an extension of filing time, were all struck out.
It was at this juncture that counsel to President Jonathan secured leave of court to move his application that was vehemently opposed by the CPC through its own counter_affidavit dated May 22.
Counsel to the CPC has insisted that Jonathan’s request was pre_emptory, contending that such order could not be issued at the pre_hearing stage of the petition as same would touch the very soul of the substantive matter itself.
Consequently, the tribunal after listening to their heated arguments yesterday, reserved its ruling on the issue indefinitely.
Meanwhile, the CPC is specifically praying the tribunal to nullify the results that were garnered by the PDP in all the 17 states in the South , as well as those of Sokoto, Kaduna, Plateau, Kwara, Benue, Adamawa, Nasarawa states, in the North and the Federal Capital Territory, FCT.
It also alleged that the ballot papers meant for certain polling units were illegally diverted to other units and were subsequently used for ballot stuffing, even as it has equally asked the tribunal to declare that president Jonathan failed to fulfill the requirement of section 134 (2) of the 1999 constitution.