By Ikechukwu Nnochiri
ABUJA—Sequel to the order of the Presidential Election Petition Tribunal sitting in Abuja, Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, yesterday produced some documents the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, and its candidate, Atiku Abubakar, requested with respect to their case against the outcome of the 2019 presidential election.
This is even as the tribunal dismissed an application that sought to de-list Peoples Democratic Movement, PDM, as a party to a petition challenging declaration of President Muhammadu Buhari as winner of the election.
It also in a dramatic twist, rejected a strange motion that sought to sack President Buhari and declare Chief Ambrose of Hope Democratic Party, HDP, president.
Though the tribunal had on Wednesday, adjourned further hearing on the joint petition Atiku and PDP lodged against Buhari’s re-election till today, the Justice Mohammed Garba-led five-member panel, however, acknowledged receipt of the sensitive electoral materials INEC produced on Thursday.
It will be recalled that the tribunal had, pursuant to an application by the petitioners, issued a subpoena against INEC Chairman, Prof. Mahmood Yakubu and Resident Electoral Commissioner, REC, in Zamfara State, to produce the documents.
In a letter signed by the secretary of INEC, Mrs. Rose Orianran-Anthony, she said the commission complied with orders of the tribunal by providing all the documents the petitioners asked for, except the ones relating to National Assembly re-run elections, stressing no such election took place.
The materials were presented shortly after the tribunal adjourned hearing on a separate petition the Peoples Democratic Movement, PDM, and its candidate, Pastor Aminchi Habu, lodged to nullify the outcome of the February 23 presidential election.
PDM loses bid to withdraw from petition against Buhari
Dismissing an application that sought to de-list Peoples Democratic Movement, PDM, as a party to a petition challenging declaration of President Muhammadu Buhari as winner of the February 23 presidential election, the tribunal held that the withdrawal of application filed by a faction of PDM, led by its National Chairman, Chief Frank Igwebuike, was incompetent.
The Justice Mohammed Garba-led five-member panel held that the group failed to meet condition precedents that would have enabled it to bring the application outside the pre-hearing session the tribunal held on the petition jointly filed by its presidential candidate, Pastor Aminchi Habu.
Justice Garba, who read the lead ruling, held that the pre-hearing session ended on June 27, while the application was filed on July 9.
Tribunal rejects ‘strange’ motion to sack Buhari
Meanwhile, the tribunal rejected a strange motion that sought to sack Buhari and declare Chief Ambrose Owuru of HDP president.
Owuru, who was the presidential candidate of the HDP, had in the motion dated June 17, adduced reason the tribunal should invoke its powers and order the Chief Justice of Nigeria, Justice Tanko Muhammad, to within 48 hours, swear him in to replace Buhari.
In the motion he predicated on eight grounds, Owuru told the tribunal that he defeated Buhari with over 50million votes in a referendum he said was coordinated on February 16 by Citizen and Observer Networks.
Ruling on the matter yesterday, the Justice Garba-led panel dismissed the application it described as “alien and extraneous” to all the laws in Nigeria.
The panel held that Owuru’s request was not supported by any provision of either Electoral Act or the 1999 Constitution (as amended).
The tribunal said the jurisdiction conferred on it by section 239(1) (a) of the Constitution was limited to the determination of election of persons to the office of the President and Vice President, as court of first instance, saying it was not empowered to consider the issue relating to the purported Referendum.
It upheld preliminary objections President Buhari, INEC and the All Progressives Congress, filed to challenge the competence of the motion they argued was meaningless.
Justice Garba held that election matters were time bound, adding that no party was at liberty to invite the court to adopt a procedure that is unknown to the law.