The Presidential Election Petitions Tribunal sitting in Abuja on Tuesday reserved ruling to a date to be communicated to parties, on whether to strike out or dimiss the petition filed by the People’s Democratic Party and its presidential candidate in the February 23, 2019, presidential election, Alhaji Atiku Abubakar.
The tribunal arrived at this decision after the three respondents in the suit, the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), President Muhammadu Buhari and the All Progressives Congress (APC), at Tuesday’s sitting asked the tribunal to either strike out or dismiss the petition by the PDP and Atiku.
Buhari, through his counsel, Chief Whole Olanipekun, asked the tribunal to strike out the entire petition for being fundamentally defective.
At the resumed pre-hearing of the petitions by the five-man panel of justices of the tribunal, Buhari said he also filed two other applications, praying the tribunal to alternatively strike out 18 itemized paragraphs of the petitioners’ reply to the respondent’s reply to the main petition for being defective.
Also INEC, through its lead counsel, Yunus Usman (SAN), in four separate applications challenged the competence of the petition filed by Atiku and the PDP.
Usman told the court to strike out the petition because of the failure of the petitioners to join Prof. Yemi Osinbajo, the running mate to President Buhari in the presidential election.
He said as co-winner of the election, Osinbajo was a necessary party and omitting his name was fatal to the petitioners’ case.
Usman further prayed the tribunal to strike out the petition because it is the duty of INEC to defend electoral process, particularly, where the petition has failed to comply with paragraph 18 (1) of the first schedule of the Electoral Act, 2010 as amended.
On its part, the All Progressives Congress (APC), through its lead counsel, Chief Lateef Fagbemi (SAN), in two motions ask the court to strike out the petition on the grounds that the preliminary objection was not responded to by the petitioners.
Fagbemi, who had earlier withdrew his first application filed on May 14, 2019, informed the court that the petitioners only replied and filed counter affidavit to the motion he had withdrawn. He therefore urged the tribunal to hold that his two other applications were unchallenged.
Responding, lead counsel to Atiku and the PDP, Dr Levy Uzuokwu (SAN), orally applied to amend the heading of his response to the APC’s application that was struck out to apply to the two other APC’s applications.
He urged the tribunal to strike out APC’s objection to their petition.
Uzuokwu responding further to Fagbemi’s applications said, “I do not think that it is simple as my brother thought as we have joined issues on the application he sought to withdraw”.
Atiku and PDP’s lawyer also prayed the court to dismiss the three separate applications filed by Buhari for lacking in merit.
Meanwhile, the tribunal adjourned to June 13.