Tribunal reserves judgment in Atiku’s petition against Buhari’s election

Election petition tribunal
Election petition tribunal

The Presidential Election Petition Tribunal on Wednesday reserved judgment in the petition filed by the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and Atiku Abubakar against the declaration of President Muhammadu Buhari as the winner of the 2019 presidential election.

The five-member panel of the tribunal led by Mohammed Garba reserved judgement on Wednesday after the petitioners and respondents adopted their final written addresses. The respondents are the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), Mr Buhari and the All Progressives Congress (APC).

Mr Garba said the judgement would be delivered on a date to be communicated to the parties.

The PDP and Mr Abubakar had on March 8 petitioned the tribunal over the February 23 election in which INEC returned Mr Buhari as duly elected.

They called 62 witnesses to prove their case.

Among the petitioners’ witnesses were seven presiding officers and five assistant presiding officers.

They were six each from Borno and Yobe and swore they were recruited and trained by the commission ahead of the election.

During the trial, PDP also showed video clips of INEC resident electoral commissioner in Akwa-Ibom State, Mike Igini.

But on Wednesday, while adopting final addresses, INEC counsel, Yunus Usman, said the commission worked in compliance with the Electoral Act 2010 as amended and that the petitioners can never disown that.

Mr Usman, therefore, asked the tribunal to dismiss the petition and award cost against the petitioners.

“We humbly both in written addresses as arguments in that respect and humbly submit that if our objections are sustained, all pieces of documentary evidence and written evidence led in consonance be struck out,” he said.

“There will not be a petition and we humbly ask your lordships to strike them out with costs. The first respondent’s written address was filed on 7th day of August 2019 upon being served the petitioner’s reply we filed our reply on points of law on the 16th day of August 2019.

“We adopt both processes as arguments. We humbly urge your lordships to dismiss the petition.”

On his part, Wole Olanipekun, counsel to the second respondent (Mr Buhari), said there is “nothing in law” that would make the tribunal grant the reliefs of the petitioners.

“In regarding the qualification of the second respondent, the law is very clear on the point that, the second respondent cannot go outside section 131 of the Constitution, we cannot change jurisprudence, neither can we amend the law,” he said.

“The constitution and case law do not expect any certificate to be tendered or attached. We cited many cases of this court and the Supreme Court.”

Citing a judgment of the Appeal Court on PDP governorship candidate in Osun State, Ademola Adeleke, Mr Olanipekun argued that an individual is only required to have secondary school education but not necessarily have to present the result to hold office.

Mr Olanipekun accused the petitioners of calling witnesses from Katsina State against their bidding.

“We urge Your Lordships to dismiss this petitions with substantial costs,” he added.

Responding, the petitioners’ counsel, Levy Uzoukwu, urged the tribunal to uphold the petition.

“Something as important as the qualification of the second respondent has so much been trivialised. Maybe as a deliberate matter of choice, they chose not to respond to our concerns,” Mr Uzoukwu said.

“They chose to say that he can speak English but even artisans can speak English. Their witness said they never submitted any certificate to the military contrary to the claim of the second respondent.”

Mr Uzoukwu said there is no proof that Mr Buhari submitted to the military his certificate.

He added that when the president joined the military in the 1960s, recruits were not required to submit their certificates.

“It is worrying me, the second respondent could not ask the military to produce his result as its Commander-in-Chief,” Mr Uzoukwu said.

He questioned where the electoral commission keeps its records if it claims that it does not have a server.

“We have been confronted in this proceedings, no original certificate, not certified true copy, no photocopy, no electronic copy of his certificate, no server of the certificate.

“Third respondents no defence, first respondents. No witnesses. We urge my lords to grant the reliefs sought because we have proved our case,” Mr Uzoukwu added.

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