2019 elections: Tribunal dismisses C4C petition against Buhari, as Justice Garba now heads panel
INEC, Buhari, APC call for cancellation of Atiku, PDP's petition
Reprieve now come for President Muhammadu Buhari and his party, the All Progressives Congress (APC) as the Presidential Election Petition Tribunal (PEPT), sitting in Abuja, on Monday dismissed the petition filed by the Coalition for Change (C4C) challenging his victory in the February 23, 2019, presidential election.
The dismissal was sequel to an application for withdrawal of the petition filed by the party (C4C) and its presidential candidate, Geff Ojinika.
In their petition, marked CA/PEPC/003/2019, they prayed for the cancellation of the election that produced Buhari as the winner on grounds of gross irregularities and violation of Electoral Act 2010, as amended.
Recall that the Independent National Electoral Commission had declared Buhari winner of the Presidential election.
When the matter was called on Monday, lawyers to Buhari and the APC, Chief Wole Olanipekun and Lateef Fagbemi, both Senior Advocate of Nigeria (SAN) informed the court that their clients were yet to be served with a copy of the petition filed by the C4C.
Olanipekun said, as at the last adjourned date, the panel had granted an application for substituted service but that up till yesterday morning, the petitioners were yet to serve the processes on the respondents
In his response, counsel for C4C, Obed Aguh informed the Tribunal that an application for the withdrawal of their petition against the election of President Buhari was filed yesterday at the court but yet to be served on the respondents.
However, following the non-objection to the application for withdrawal, Chairman of the five-man panel, Justice Mohammed Garba, accordingly dismissed the suit.
Meanwhile, President Buhari and his party, the APC, asked the Tribunal to strike out the petition filed by the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and its Presidential candidate, Alhaji Atiku Abubakar challenging his election victory in the February 23, 2019, general election.
Atiku and his party had, in their petition, which has INEC, Buhari and the APC as first to third respondents asked the Tribunal to nullify Buhari’s election on the grounds of alleged malpractices and gross violation of Electoral Act.
When the Tribunal resumed hearing in the matter on Monday, counsel to the electoral body, Yunus Ustaz Usman (SAN) asked the Tribunal to dismiss the petition challenging the electoral victory of Buhari on the ground that it failed to comply to paragraph 18 (1) first schedule of the Electoral Act.
He also asked the five-member panel of the Tribunal to strike out Atiku and PDP’s petition for failure to join the Vice President, Prof Yemi Osibanjo.
In his own submission, Buhari’s counsel prayed for the dismissal of the entire petition filed by Atiku and his party.
He also prayed for the striking out of the reply filed by the petitioners to the reply of the respondents’ application.
Fagbemi, representing the APC, in his submission, told the Tribunal that he has three applications praying for the striking out of the entire petition or striking out of some paragraphs of the petition.
The current chairman of the Tribunal, Justice Garba, who is the presiding judge of the Lagos division of the Court of Appeal, is now heading the five-man panel of the Tribunal.
The Tribunal, earlier presided by Justice Zainab Bulkachuwa had adjourned on May 24, after Bulkachuwa recused herself following a petition by Atiku on the alleged likelihood of bias.
Bulkachuwa, however, did not announce her replacement after about two weeks when she withdrew from the matter and the matter stood adjourned, until Monday.
Garba in his remarks promised that the Tribunal would be fair to all parties in the suit and called for maximum cooperation from lawyers representing parties in order to give an expeditious hearing to the petition.