Presidential election: Supreme Court slates Aug 20 to hear Atiku’s appeal

Late filing of an application by lawyers to the Presidential Candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Alhaji Atiku Abubakar and the PDP on Tuesday stalled the planned hearing of an appeal they filed against the decision of the Presidential Election Petition Tribunal (PEPT).

The appeal is challenging a ruling of the tribunal, in which it held that Atiku and the PDP do not have a reply to an application filed on May 14, 2019, by the All Progressives Congress (APC) seeking among others, the dismissal of their (Atiku and the PDP) petition challenging President Muhammadu Buhari’s victory at the last presidential election.

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When the appeal, marked: SC/738/2019 was mentioned on Tuesday, lead counsel to the appellants, Paul Erokoro (SAN) said he regretted that he filed a fresh “application this morning” for leave to bring supplementary records from the lower court.

Counsel to the respondents – the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), Yunus Usman (SAN), Chief Wole Olanipekun (SAN), for Buhari and Lateef Fagbemi (SAN) for the APC respectively said they were just served with the application and needed time to examine it and react appropriately.

A five-man panel of the court, led by Justice Mary Peter-Odili, adjourned until August 20, 2019, for the hearing of the appeal.

The APC through its counsel had filed a motion in which it pleaded with the tribunal to strike out names of ten states and some individuals in the Atiku’s petition on the ground that sufficient claims known to the law were not made against them.

The party also asked the tribunal to strike out the name of the Vice President, Yemi Osinbajo, the Chief of Army Staff, Lt. General Yusuf Tukur Buratai, the Nigerian Army, Police among others from the petition on the ground that they were not made defendants in the petition.

Although Atiku’s counsel filed a strong objection against the motion, they, however, did not file a counter affidavit to support the motion for objection.

Attempt to remedy the situation was turned down by the tribunal chairman, Justice Mohammed Garba who said that the time allowed to file the counter affidavit had lapsed but that the tribunal will consider Atiku’s objection on its merit.

The refusal of the tribunal to accommodate the counter affidavit prompted the two petitioners to move their case to the Supreme Court for remedy especially an order of the apex court to compel the tribunal to allow the two petitioners file their counter affidavit as required by law.

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