Presidential poll: Tribunal orders substituted service of petition on Buhari

The Presidential Election Petition Tribunal has ordered that the petition brought before it by candidate of the Peoples Democratic Movement (PDM), Pastor Aminchi Habu and his party challenging the declaration of President Muhammadu Buhari as the winner of the February 23 presidential election be served on the President through substituted means.

Justice Abdul Aboki, who headed the three-member panel of Justices of the Court of Appeal of the Tribunal made the order, in a ruling on an exparte application brought before the Tribunal by the petitioners.

The exparte application, according to the Counsel to the petitioners, Aliyu Lemu, followed the inability to effect personal service of the petition and other processes on the President because of security and protocols surrounding his office.

Justice Aboki, in his ruling, said, “We have carefully considered the exparte application, the affidavit in support as well as the accompanying written address and we have resolved that it will be in the interest of justice if the application is granted.”

He consequently, ordered that the petition and other processes of the Tribunal should be served on President Buhari through the office of the National Legal Adviser of , APC National Headquarters, 40 Blantyre Street, Off Adetokunbo Ademola Street, Wise II, Abuja.

In the petition, marked CA/PEPC/004/2019, which has the President, the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) and the APC as respondents, the petitioners wants the Tribunal to, among other prayers, declare the victory of Buhari and the APC at the February 23 Presidential election null and void.

The PDM’s Presidential candidate said the name of his party and logo were unlawfully omitted from the ballot papers by INEC thereby denying him the opportunity of contesting in the election.

In the petition, the PDM presidential candidate said himself and his party had spent a lot of money on campaigns and they felt cheated by INEC.

He is praying the court to declare that he was validly nominated by the second petitioner (PDM) but unlawfully excluded by the first respondent (INEC) from the election into the office of the President held on February 23, 2019.

“A declaration that the second respondent being the candidate of the third respondent (APC) was not lawfully or validly returned as the winner of the said election by virtue of the unlawful exclusion of the petitioners.”

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“An order nullifying the return and declaration of the second respondent (Buhari) as the winner of the election held on February 23, 2019 for the office of the President on grounds of wrongful exclusion of the petitioners from the Presidential election held on February 23, 2019.”

“An order directing the first respondent (INEC) to conduct a fresh election into the office of the President within 90 days from the date of the judgment of the tribunal.”

Attached to the petition are: a copy of INEC’s timetable, the timetable of the PDM and schedule of reparations for the 2019 general elections, pictures of the PDM convention and Presidential primary, a copy of a letter from the PDM to INEC containing the list of its candidates in the elections and a copy of the ballot paper of the Presidential election showing the absence of the party’s name and logo.

In his statement on oath, Habu, who is a pastor, said he purchased the Presidential form of the PDM at the rate of N5 million after which he visited the 36 states of the federation to seek the support of party members.

He said after he emerged winner of the primary, the PDM forwarded his name to INEC, adding that, “The first respondent (INEC) without any lawful cause, wrongfully excluded my name, my party and our logo from the ballot paper and all other electoral materials and documents used for the February 23, 2019 Presidential election.

“The above action of the first respondent (INEC) in unlawfully and wrongfully excluding the petitioners has caused immeasurable losses in resources and electoral fortunes of the petitioners especially my good self having invested so much money campaigning, time and resources mobilising supporters throughout the entire country,” he said.

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