An official of the Presidential Election Petition Court in Abuja, Kabir Akanbi, says social media reports of the resignation of a member of the court’s five-member panel, Boloukuoromo Ugo, are untrue.
Reports of Mr Ugo’s resignation from the five-member court panel headed by Haruna Tsammani trended on Twitter Thursday morning.
But in a short telephone interview with PREMIUM TIMES on Thursday afternoon, Mr Akandi, a deputy registrar, said, “It is not true that my Lord, Honourable Justice Ugo resigned from the Presidential Election Petition Court.”
A court at the centre of media speculations
The news of Mr Ugo’s resignation came less than 24 hours after the Supreme Court denied a similar issue concerning the Chief Justice of Nigeria (CJN), Olukayode Ariwoola, over a purported telephone call with President Bola Tinubu regarding the latter’s case before the presidential election court.
Mr Tinubu’s victory in the 25 February presidential election is being challenged at the court by three political parties with their candidates.
In a statement by Supreme Court’s director of press, Festus Akande, the apex court denied social media posts on an alleged secret phone conversation between Messrs Ariwoola and Tinubu.
Similarly, Mr Tinubu’s party, the All Progressives Congress (APC), denied the allegation of a phone conversation between the CJN and the President.
The reports had suggested the two men recently had a phone conversation focusing on how to pressurise the presidential election court to rule in favour of Mr Tinubu and the APC.
Also, the social media reports said Mr Ariwoola had a phone call with the Director General of the State Security Service (SSS), Yusuf Bichi, concerning proceedings involving Mr Tinubu at the court.
It will be recalled that there was a media report prior to Mr Tinubu’s inauguration on 29 May when the CJN was alleged to have met with Mr Tinubu in London over the pending cases against him.
But the Supreme Court granted PREMIUM TIMES rare access to the CJN’s Chambers within the precincts of the Presidential Villa in Abuja, where Mr Ariwoola was seen being escorted by security aides to a mosque for Juma’at prayers on Friday.
Two leading opposition party candidates, Atiku Abubakar and Peter Obi, are challenging Mr Tinubu’s victory at the presidential election court in Abuja.
Atiku of the Peoples Democratic Party and Mr Obi of the Labour Party, in their separate suits, are praying the court to set aside Mr Tinubu’s victory on account of electoral fraud.
A third petition filed by the Allied Peoples’ Movement (APM) is also pending before the court.
Atiku and Mr Obi accused Nigeria’s electoral commission, INEC, of manipulating the 25 February presidential election in favour of Mr Tinubu.
Mr Tinubu defeated Atiku, who came second in the race, while Mr Obi clinched the third position.
Proceedings at the court are drawing to a close as lawyers to parties in the petitions exchange final written addresses in preparation for the last sitting before judgement is delivered on or before 16 September, when the suits will lapse.
At the three-week hearing of the suits, Atiku and Mr Obi called 27 and 23 witnesses, respectively, and tendered tons of electronic documents in aid of their suits.
Another political party, Allied Peoples Movement (APM), is equally praying the court to nullify Mr Tinubu’s victory.
In their defence, Mr Tinubu and Vice President Kashim Shettima as well as the APC and INEC, called one witness each and tendered documents to claims by the petitioners.
They urged the court to dismiss the petitions and affirm Mr Tinubu’s victory.
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