Godwin Tsa, Abuja
Moves by the Hope Democratic Party (HDP) and its presidential candidate, Chief Ambrose Owuru, to amend the list of witnesses to testify in their petition against the reelection of President Muhammadu Buhari have failed at the Presidential Election Petition Tribunal sitting in Abuja.
The development came as Owuru and factional chairman of the party, Chief Poland Awini Tapre, clashed over the bid by the latter to withdraw the petition of the party challenging the return of President Buhari as winner of the February 23 election.
The combatants openly expressed their different positions on the legal action against Buhari.
Tapre told the tribunal that he was the authentic chairman of the party.
“My lord I stand to say again that I am the national chairman of the HDP. I do not know these other people and they do not represent the interest of the party,” Awinitabre told the tribunal.
The factional chairman, at the resumed hearing of the petition againstthe President, announced that its presidential candidate was never authorised or mandated to file any petition against the February 23 presidential election.
Tapre, who brought a motion to the tribunal to disown the petition of the presidential candidate, also prayed the court to erase the name of the party from the petition.
In his motion, which was moved by his counsel, Anthony Agbonlahan, he urged the tribunal, headed by Justice Mohammed Lawal Garba, to remove the party’s name from the petition because the HDP had no intention of challenging the outcome of the presidential election.
In the motion, which had three exhibits, Owuru was said not to have consulted with the party’s leadership before using the name of the party as second petitioner against the election of Buhari.
However, the presidential candidate, Owuru, vehemently opposed the attempt to scuttle his petition with a counter-affidavit of six paragraphs deposed to by Auwal Abdullahi, who claimed to be national financial secretary of the party.
He further averred that the bid to remove the party’s name from his petition was a “gang-up and conspiracy from high level” against his petition and urged the tribunal to ignore the purported factional chairman.
Owuru’s counsel, Chukwunonyerem Njokwu, in the counter-affidavit, described the factional chairman as an impostor who was not known to the party in any capacity whatsoever.
The counsel alleged that the purported factional chairman was a sponsored agent sent to the tribunal to frustrate the speedy hearing of the petition of his client against Buhari.
Njoku pleaded with the tribunal to award a punitive cost of N100m against the factional chairman for acting as busy body and meddlesome interloper in the petition, adding that Tapre was not a member of the HDP but sent by his masters on a mission to destroy the petition.