Lawyers to the presidential candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, Alhaji Atiku Abubakar, on Monday evening, In a rush to beat the 21 days deadline provided by the Electoral Act, stormed the tribunal to lodge a petition against President Muhammadu Buhari.
Independent National Electoral Commission had on February 27, declared President Buhari who was the flag-bearer of the All Progressives Congress, APC, winner of the presidential election.
Under section 134 of the Electoral Act, 2010, any candidate that was dissatisfied with the outcome of the presidential contest, was mandated to approach the tribunal with a petition, not later than 21 days after the result was announced, a deadline that will expire on Tuesday.
Atiku’s team of lawyers led by Mr. Chukwuma Machukwu Ume, SAN, Chief Mike Ozekhome, SAN, and Mr. Emeka Etiaba, SAN, are perfecting the filing process at the Central Registry of the Presidential Election Petition Tribunal, PEPT. The tribunal will be conducting its proceedings at the Court of Appeal headquarters in Abuja. Though Atiku had yet to arrive at the tribunal where he is expected to personally depose to an affidavit, however, some chieftains of the PDP, including its spokesman, Mr. Kola Ologbodiyan and Alhaji Buba Galadima, accompanied the lawyers to the tribunal. Addressing newsmen, National Legal Adviser of the PDP, Mr. Emmanuel Enoidem, revealed that Atiku would be seeking two principal reliefs at the tribunal.
“We asked that our candidate who won the election massively across the country be declared the winner. “In the alternative, we also asked that the election be set aside on the ground of irregularity which was apparent across the country. “We have a pool of 20 SANs who are tested in election petition matters and other senior lawyers who are also working with them. So we are confident. “We have also lined up more than 400 witnesses that are going to testify in this petition. “Nigerians are at home with what happened on February 23, We are going to re-present those facts to Nigerians, we are not going to manufacture facts”, he added.
President Buhari and the APC had through their lawyers, Adelani Ajibade and Thomas Ojo, prayed the tribunal to order INEC to release the materials to enable them to prepare their defence to a petition the presidential candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, Alhaji Atiku Abubakar intends to lodge against the outcome of the presidential poll.
The tribunal said it was
inclined to grant the request pursuant to section 6(6) (a) (b) of the 1999
Constitution, section 137(2) and 151(1) and (2) of the Electoral Act and 47(1)
of the Third Schedule to Electoral Act.
The 1st Respondent (INEC) is hereby ordered to forthwith, allow the Applicant or his representatives to inspect all the polling documents used in the just concluded presidential election to allow the Applicant to defend any petition that may arise from his declaration as winner of the February 23 presidential election”, the tribunal held.