Godwin Tsa, Abuja
The Presidential Election Petition Tribunal has reserved judgment in the petition brought by the Hope Democratic Party (HDP) and its presidential candidate, Ambrose Owuru, challenging the conduct and outcome of the February 23 election.
This followed the adoption of final written addresses by parties to the petition.
Adopting his processes, counsel for the petitioners, Chukwunoyerem Njoku, urged the tribunal to set aside the election on ground that the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) did not follow condition precedent stipulated in the Electoral Act before postponing the election earlier scheduled for February 16.
It is the case of the petitioners that following the unconstitutional postponement of the said election, a referendum was conducted in accordance with the law and its candidate emerged winner of the referendum with over 50 million votes.
Njoku informed the tribunal that Nigerian citizen participated in the February 16, 2019 referendum as required by law.
He, therefore, urged the tribunal to nullify the declaration of President Buhari by INEC as president and owuru declared as the authentic winner of the referendum.
But President Buhari, through his lead counsel, Wole Olanikpekun (SAN), urged the tribunal to dismiss the petition on the grounds that it is frivolous,baseless and lacking in merit.
Besides, Olanipekun told the tribunal the petitioners did not in any way adduce evidence on how the referendum was conducted and who conducted it in line with the provisions of the law.
Buhari further told the tribunal that he had studied carefully the final address of the petitioners and there was nowhere they made any case against President Buhari.
On its part, the INEC, through its lead counsel, Yunus Usman (SAN), had while adopting his final address, urged the tribunal to dismiss the petition with substantial cost to serve as a deterrent to those who may wis to file frivolous and baseless petitions in the 2023 elections.
Usman argued that the petition lacked merit because the electoral body conducted an election and not a referendum and the claims of the two petitioners were strange to the electoral umpire.
He, therefore, urged the tribunal to uphold the declaration of President Buhari as winner.
Meanwhile, the presidential candidate of the Peoples Democratic Movement (PDM), Pastor Aminchi Habu, yesterday said he withdrew his petition against the election of President Buhari because he has promised to address the wishes and concerns of his constituency.
The PDM presidential candidate had predicated his petition at the tribunal on grounds of unlawful exclusion from participating in the election despite his nomination and clearance for the poll.
The petition was scheduled for hearing by the Justice Muhammed Garba led five-member tribunal when the petitioner dramatically announced he was withdrawing the petition filed four months ago.
It was, accordingly, dismissed by the tribunal after the application for the withdrawal of the petition was not challenged by the respondents.
The petitioner, had among other reasons, stated that he withdrew the petition to prevent Buhari from incurring expenses in defending himself and allow him concentrate on governance.
The PDM candidate also said he had found an alternative means of seeking redress in his complaint against Buhari’s election.