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Presidential poll: Tribunal declines to de-list HDP from petition against Buhari

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By Ikechukwu Nnochiri

ABUJA—A faction of Hope Democratic Party, HDP, yesterday failed to persuade the Presidential Election Petition Tribunal sitting in Abuja, to allow it  pull out of a petition challenging the re-election of President Muhammadu Buhari.

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In a unanimous ruling, the five-member panel tribunal headed by Justice Mohammed Garba, dismissed the application as lacking in merit.

The tribunal had last Tuesday, reserved its ruling on an application dated June 18, which sought for the name of HDP to be struck out from the petition on the premise that consent of the party was not secured before the case was entered to challenge the outcome of the February 23 presidential election.

In an affidavit  deposed to by the factional Chairman of the HDP, Mr. Poland Awinitabre, he told the tribunal that the presidential candidate of the party, Chief Ambrose Owuru, unilaterally filed the petition without consulting the party.

However, in a counter-afdidavit he filed through his lawyer, Mr. Chukwunonyerem Njoku, Owuru, urged the tribunal to dismiss the application he said was brought by impostors.

Owuru who is the 1st petitioner before the tribunal, argued that he could not have participated in the presidential election if indeed he was suspended in 2018.

On his part, President Buhari argued that refusing the application would amount to denial of fair hearing to the applicants seeking to withdraw a case that was illegal entered in their name.

Ruling on the matter, the tribunal held that it was settled law that granting an application to strike out the name of a co-petitioner was not granted as a matter of cause but on the basis of affidavit evidence.

Justice Garba who delivered the lead ruling, held that since the constitution does not recognise independence candidacy and elections are contested by political parties, he said the onus was on the applicants to prove that HDP no longer shared common interest with the 1st petitioner.

Meanwhile, the tribunal also, yesterday, refused to strike out or dismiss the petition the Peoples Democratic Movement, PDM, and its candidate, Pastor Aminchi Habu, lodged to nullify the outcome of the February 23 presidential election.

The tribunal, dismissed applications the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, President Muhammadu Buhari and All Progressives Congress, APC, filed to challenge the competence of the petition they argued was legally defective.

 

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