Godwin Tsa, Abuja
The Presidential Election Petition Tribunal has granted the request made by the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) and its presidential candidate, Atiku Abubakar, to serve their petitions against the result of the February 23 presidential election on President Muhammadu Buhari by substituted means.
The Justice Abdul Aboki led three-man panel who granted the request contained in an ex parte motion, specifically ordered that that copies of all the legal processes should be served on Buhari through any senior officer at the national headquarters of his party, the All Progressives Congress (APC), in Abuja.
Meanwhile, it is more trouble for president Buhari as three more presidential candidates have separately filed their petitions at the Presidential Election Petition Tribunal sitting in Abuja, asking it to void the outcome of the February 23 presidential election.
They are the presidential candidate of the Hope Democratic Party, HDP, Chief Ambrose Owuru, whose petition marked as CA/ PEPC/001/2019 also cited the APC and the INEC as respondents.
Owuru secured a total of 1,663 in the presidential election.
In another petition that was registered as CA/PEPC/004/2019, the presidential candidate of the Peoples Democratic Movement, PDM, Pastor Aminchi Habu, is equally challenging the outcome of the presidential poll.
Similarly, in its own petition marked CA/PEPC/003/2019, the Coalition For Change, C4C and its presidential candidate, Geff Chizee Ojinka, is also urging the tribunal to nullify President Buhari’s election.
The order of the tribunal was a sequel to an ex-parte application that was filed by the opposition Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), and its presidential candidate, Atiku Abubakar and which was moved by their lawyers led by Chief Chris Uche (SAN).
In the petition marked CA/PEPC/002/2019, the applicants who listed the INEC, Buhari and APC as respondents, prayed the tribunal to invalidate the declaration of President Buhari as the winner of the presidential contest.
The tribunal had earlier ordered the electoral body to grant both the petitioners and the 2nd and 3rd Respondents (Buhari and the APC), access to all the electoral materials that were deployed for the February 23 presidential poll, apart from the Smart Card Reader Machines.
While Atiku and PDP maintained that they would need copies of the materials to sustain their allegation that the election was rigged, on the other hand, Buhari and the APC said they would also need the materials to prove that they legitimately won the presidential election.
Remarkably, unlike in all the other petitions, the C4C, which garnered a total of 2,391 votes at the presidential poll, cited the Vice President, Prof. Yemi Osinbajo, as the 2nd Respondent in its case. It told the tribunal that its candidate, Ojinka, was validly nominated to participate in the February 23 election in order to secure votes to occupy the presidential seat.
The INEC had on February 27, declared that Buhari won the presidential contest with 15,191,847 votes to defeat his closest rivalry, Atiku, who it said polled a total of 11,262,978 votes.
However, in their joint petition, Atiku and his party insist that the date they secured from INEC’s server revealed that they defeated President Buhari with over 1.6million votes.
The petitioners alleged that INEC had at various stages of the presidential election, unlawful allocated votes to President Buhari, saying they would adduce oral and documentary evidence to show that result of the election as announced by the electoral body, did not represent the lawful valid votes cast.
Atiku alleged that in some states, INEC deducted lawful votes that accrued to him, in its bid to ensure that Buhari was returned back to the office.