The Presidential Election Petition Tribunal, on Thursday, rejected an invitation to grant an application seeking the withdrawal of Hope Democratic Party (HDP) from challenging President Muhammadu Buhari’s re-election.
Giving ruling, Justice Mohammed Garba held that HDP and its presidential candidate in the Feb.23 general election, Chief Ambrose Owuru, remained consenting plaintiffs in the eyes of the law.
Mr Tapre Poland, an acclaimed National Chairman of the party, had approached the tribunal with the application pursuant to Section 36 of the Constitution.
Poland had prayed for an order of the court to strike out the name of the second petitioner (HDP) from the suit.
According to him, the party was listed as a petitioner in the suit without the consent and approval of the National Working Committee (NEC).
Owuru and HDP had jointly filed a petition before the tribunal to challenge Buhari’s victory in the election.
Garba said that the applicant failed to convince the tribunal to grant his prayer, adding that Poland’s inability to file a counter affidavit on Owuru’s defence had left his allegations null and void.
The chairman of the panel held that the list containing the names of the National Executive of the party presented by the respondent (Owuru) negated the claim of the applicant that he (Poland) was the National Chairman of the party.
The judge said that there was no court record challenging the outcome of the Sept.19, 2018 National Convention of the party duly supervised by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC).
Garba held that evidence before the tribunal had convinced members of the panel to hold that HDP remained a consenting plaintiff in the petition challenging Buhari’s re-lection.
The judge also said that Section 239 of the Constitution limited the powers of the tribunal to cover only disputes from the presidential election.
Garba explained that the panel would not be tempted to adjudicate on leadership controversies within the party.
He therefore, said that the application was not in conformity with any provisions of the Electoral Act.
Garba further held that no evidence had been adduced to show that both HDP and Owuru no longer have common interest in the matter.
“In the circumstance, the application seeking the withdrawal of the second petitioner (HDP) from this suit is unmeritorious and therefore dismissed,’’ Garba held.
Garba adjourned further hearing on the petition until July 2.
In another development, the tribunal dismissed applications filed by INEC and Buhari urging it to strike out the petition filed by the Peoples Democratic Movement (PDM) and its presidential candidate, Pastor Habu Aminchi.
The applicants hinged their reasons on the allegations that the petitioners failed to apply for the issuance of pre-hearing notice within the seven days allowed by law.
The petitioners had, in their responses, countered the allegations as according to them, they fulfilled everything required by law in the filing of their processes.
The chairman of the panel, therefore, held that the petitioners indeed applied for the issuance of the pre-hearing notice at the right time allowed by law.
Garba went ahead to fix July 10 for the presentation of pre-hearing report by the court. (NAN)