UPDATED: Party challenging exclusion from presidential election seeks withdrawal of petition

Wole Olanikpekun and Alex Izinyon (SANs) discussing at the tribunal
Wole Olanikpekun and Alex Izinyon (SANs) discussing at the tribunal

The Peoples Democratic Movement (PDM) has applied to withdraw from its petition challenging the reelection of President Muhammadu Buhari.

But the candidate of the party, Aminchi Habu, who is the first petitioner, said he was just served the application and requested for time to study and respond to it.

In a motion on Wednesday, PDM said it decided to withdraw after a close evaluation of the probability of the petition succeeding.

The party’s lawyer, Morrison Onunu, said its decision to withdraw from the petition was not based on any political agreement with the ruling party.

“The first petitioner can go ahead with his petition,” he said.

“What the party is saying is that they are no more interested in the petition because it is in the interest of the party and of the nation to withdraw as a petitioner. That is our application before the honourable court that we have filed. The other parties have filed their responses apart from the first petitioner who served us in court and the court is of the view that we reply.

“The party’s interest is simply that they want to withdraw because of the petition itself, when reviewed, does not support the interest of the party.
The party wants the country to be as peaceful as it is,” he said.
The PDM is one of the political parties challenging the February 23 presidential election at the tribunal.

The party’s petition is based on its alleged unlawful exclusion from the election.

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A mild drama ensued on Wednesday when Mr Onunu announced appearance in court to represent the party.

Until Wednesday, Aliyu Lemu had represented both the party and the candidate.

According to its application, the party had alleged that its presidential candidate, Mr Habu, did not secure its approval before filing the petition.

The court had adjourned the matter for the presentation of the pre-hearing report on Monday but was forced to postpone due to the application for withdrawal of the petition.

The court adjourned the matter till July 18 for hearing along with a similar petition by the Hope Democratic Party (HDP).

The allegation of unlawful exclusion, on which the PDM based its petition, is a major ground for an election petition.

Other grounds include allegations that the winner of an election is not qualified to contest, that the winner did not poll the majority of votes, or that the election was marred by irregularities.

A petition can also be brought where the petitioner believes that information submitted by the alleged winner to Independent National Election Commission is false.

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