Court Permits Atiku, PDP to Serve Petition on Buhari through APC

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Atiku Abubakar
  • HDP drags president, ruling party, INEC to tribunal
  • Asks for nullification of presidential election

Alex Enumah in Abuja

The candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Alhaji Atiku Abubakar, and his party yesterday got leave of the Court of Appeal to serve their petitions, challenging the outcome of the February 23 presidential election on President Muhammadu Buhari by substituted service through any of the senior lawyers of the All Progressives Congress (APC).

A three-man panel of the Court of Appeal led by Justice Abdul Aboki gave the order in a ruling on an exparte application filed by Atiku.

The court in the ruling held that the application is meritorious and in the interest of justice and subsequently ordered that “leave is hereby granted to serve the petition and other processes via substituted service through any of the senior officers of the All Progressives Congress (APC).’’

Consequently, the petition is now to be served on the President through the National Secretariat of the APC, located at no 40 Blantyre Street, off Adetokunbo Ademola Crescent, Wuse, Abuja.
INEC had declared Buhari winner of the February 23 presidential election having scored the majority of lawful votes at the poll.

However, Atiku and his party, PDP, are challenging the victory of Buhari and the APC based on allegations of massive rigging, suppression of voters in stronghold of the PDP, malpractices and non-compliance substantially with the electoral laws amongst others.

The duo had on March 18 filed their petitions at the Presidential Election Petition Tribunal sitting at the Court of Appeal, Abuja.

However, owing to what appears to be difficulty in effecting service of the petition on President Buhari, the PDP presidential candidate through his lawyers led by Chief Chris Uche (SAN), approached the tribunal for leave to obtain an order of the tribunal to serve the petition on Buhari through substituted means, his party, the APC.

According to the senior lawyer, it was practically impossible to reach Buhari in person to effect service on him because of the retinue of security.

The exparte, which was predicated on seven grounds, was supported by a 17-paragraph affidavit and another five-paragraph further affidavit, praying the court to grant leave to serve Buhari with the petition outside the Presidential Villa.

Respondents in the exparte motion are INEC, Buhari and the APC.

Precisely 19 days after the declaration of Buhari as winner of the February 23 rescheduled presidential election, Atiku and the PDP had filed their petition against Buhari’s victory.

In the petition, Atiku and the PDP are praying that they be declared winner of the February 23 presidential election. In the alternative, the two petitioners prayed the Presidential Election Petition Tribunal (PEPT) to nullify the poll and order for a fresh election that will be conducted in line with provisions of the electoral laws.

HDP Drags Buhari, INEC, APC to Tribunal

Meanwhile, fresh petitioners, the Hope Democratic Party (HDP) and its presidential candidate, Chief Ambrose Owuru, are also challenging the legality of the election.

In the petition marked CA/EPT/PRE/001/2019, dated March 6 and filed March 7, they prayed the tribunal to nullify the election of February 23 and the subsequent declaration of Buhari as the winner on the grounds that INEC has no power under any law to shift the February 16 date to 23.

The two petitioners, who claimed to have been excluded from participating in the February 23 poll, averred that the election was invalid by reason of non-compliance with the provisions of the Electoral Act, which stipulates the conditions under which election can lawfully be postponed.

Their main grouse is that they were validly nominated for the 2019 general election, but were unlawfully excluded from the said elections by INEC, which delisted their names and party logo from the ballot papers.

They, however, asserted that they will at the trial lead evidence and rely on the laws in support of their petitions to establish that the shifting of the election from February 16 to 23, was without the force of law and powers to do so.

Another grouse of the petitioners is that INEC placed a false version of their registered party logo on the ballot papers for elections, adding that the action of the electoral body cost them the chances of realising their political ambition in the 2019 general election.

Meanwhile, an ex parte motion filed by the petitioners seeking to serve President Buhari with their petitions and other processes is to be heard at the Court of Appeal in Abuja today.

The ex parte motion filed by Yusuf Ibrahim, an Abuja based lawyer, is seeking an order of the court to serve President Buhari by pasting their petition at the Aso Villa Presidential office, the National Secretariat of the APC and at the tribunal’s notice board.

The ex parte motion followed an affidavit of non-service deposed to by one Abubakar Mohammed, Chief Bailiff of the Court of Appeal, where he claimed that security personnel at the reception of Aso Villa denied him access to enter and effect service on President Buhari on the grounds that there is no directive from the president’s office to that effect.