Ikechukwu Nnochiri – Abuja
The Supreme Court on Monday struck out a fresh motion filed by the Hope Democratic Party (HDP) and its presidential candidate, Chief Ambrose Owuru, seeking to revive an appeal they lodged to challenge President Muhammadu Buhari victory in the February 23 presidential election.
The party had approached the court to restore their case against President Buhari, the Independent National Electoral Commission, (INEC) and the All Progressives Congress (APC).
In their fresh motion, the appellants maintained that their case was prematurely terminated on technical grounds by a five-man panel of the apex court led by Justice Mary Odili.
They noted that the panel had in a ruling on October 3, struck out their appeal on the premise that they lodged two separate notices of appeal on the same subject matter, contrary to provisions of the law.
The appellants prayed the court to reverse itself and hear their case against the outcome of the last presidential election on its merit.
Owing to issues they raised in the fresh motion, the Chief Justice of Nigeria, Justice Tanko Muhammad, constituted a new panel to hear the matter.
However, on Monday when a new panel of Justices of the Supreme Court headed by Justice Kayode Ariwola resumed proceeding on the matter, the appellants, through their lawyer, Mr. Sunday Ezema, applied to withdraw the motion.
Counsel to the appellants withdrew the case after the panel notified him that under section 285(7) of the 1999 Constitution, the apex court has 60 days from the day the presidential election petitions tribunal delivered its judgment, to hear and determine their appeal.
The apex court stressed that it has no power to extend the statutorily allocated time for the determination of the appeal.
Ezema agreed with the panel that the time allowed for the appeal had elapsed and therefore applied to withdraw the matter.
President Buhari’s lawyer, Chief Wole Olanipekun (SAN), that of the INEC, Yunus Usman Ustaz (SAN) and counsel to the APC, Yakubu Maikyau (SAN) did not object to the withdrawal of the application, though the APC demanded a substantial cost to be awarded against the appellants.
In a ruling, the Justice Ariwola-led panel struck out the motion but declined to make an order for cost.