Godwin Tsa, Abuja
The Presidential Election Petition Tribunal has dismissed the motion by President Muhammadu Buhari challenging the eligibility of the candidate of the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) Atiku Abubakar, to question the outcome of the February 23 election at the Tribunal.
In a unanimous ruling, the Tribunal held that the argument which President Buhari canvassed in a preliminary objection he filed on May 14 was “diversionary, incompetent and academic.”
It was the findings of the Tribunal that none of the parties disputed the fact that Atiku duly participated in the presidential election.
Related: Atiku, PDP petition valid – Tribunal
The Tribunal held that Buhari ought to have filed a Cross-Appeal to challenge Atiku’s eligibility.
It will be recalled that the All Progressives Congress (APC) had insisted that Atiku is a Cameroonian and not a Nigerian by birth.
But the Tribunal dismissed an argument by the petitioners that President Buhari’s entire reply to the petition was incompetent.
The Tribunal said it had the discretion to consider the reply. Relying on Paragraph 16(a) and (b) of the First Schedule to the Electoral Act, the Tribunal struck out aspects of the petitioners’ processes relating to witness statement of former Aviation Minister and National Collation Agent of the PDP during the presidential election, Chief Osita Chidoka.
Chidoka, who appeared as the star witness for the petitioners, had, among other things, tendered documents to support the allegation that the result of the presidential poll was electronically transmitted to the Independent National Electoral Commission’s (INEC) central server.
The Tribunal held that Chidoka’s evidence introduced fresh facts to the petition.