Owuru, HDP ask Supreme Court to set aside Tribunal judgment in Buhari’s favour

The candidate of the Hope Democratic Party (HDP), Chief Ambrose Owuru and his party,  have asked the Supreme Court to set aside the judgment of the Presidential Election Petition Tribunal, which upheld the election of President Muhammadu Buhari as the winner of the February 23 election.

Owuru and HDP in a notice of appeal filed at the apex court challenged the tribunal’s decision that dismissed their petition on August 22 on grounds of jurisdiction.

In the notice of appeal filed on August 28 on their behalf by their counsel, Chukwunonyerem Njoku, the appellants want the Supreme Court to void the presidential election of February 23 on the grounds that it was unlawfully conducted by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) due to illegal shift of the said election from February 16 to February 23.

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In the place of the election of February 23, the appellants prayed the apex court to uphold a referendum election said to have been conducted on February 16, in which Owuru reportedly won with over 50 million voice votes by Nigerians.

The appeal predicated on 12 grounds, also prayed the Apex Court to order the swearing-in ceremony of Ambrose Owuru as the duly elected president of Nigeria based on the February 16 referendum.

Amongst others, Owuru and HDP asserted that the presidential election petition tribunal erred in law when it declined statutory jurisdiction on the petition on the grounds that a referendum election is not known to law.

The appellants insisted that the referendum election of February 16, 2019, was in accordance with the provisions of sections 14, 132 and 133 of the 1999 constitution.

They stated that the jurisdiction of the tribunal to hear all matters relating to elections, including referendum election are provided under section 6, 239, 285 of the 1999 constitution and section 2, 26 and 156 paragraph 2 of the first schedule of the Electoral Act, 2010 as amended.

Appellants claimed that the tribunal gave wrong interpretation to section 285 of the constitution and proceeded on the wrong assumption of the law that its constitutional duty to determine whether a person has been validly elected as president is restricted only to an election conducted by the electoral body.

The HDP and its presidential candidate also faulted the tribunal’s judgment on the grounds that it was not based on proper evaluation and legal assessment and reflection of their purport and went out to re-invent the respondents’ abandoned pleadings and failure to disprove their case as presented and made out.

“The tribunal failed to see that petitioners, having tendered relevant and unchallenged evidence have discharged the burden of proof on them, even when not strictly required in the face of respondents’ abandonment of their pleadings requiring no further proof as an admitted case”, the appellants said.

They further alleged that the tribunal failed to properly define or follow the already defined meaning of the word “post-election” and arrived at the wrong assumption and conclusion under the law to dismiss their petition.

Insisting that the tribunal’s decision is perverse and resulting in miscarriage of justice, the appellants prayed the Supreme Court to void and set aside the tribunal’s judgment of August 22, which upheld the election of President Buhari on the strength of the February 23 election.

Respondents in the appeal are; President Buhari, INEC and the All Progressives Congress (APC).

It would be recalled that the tribunal had on August 22 dismissed the petition of the appellants on the grounds that their acclaimed referendum of February 16 was not conducted by INEC as required by law, while it held that the February 23 election was conducted by the electoral body in line with the provision of the law.

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