Presidential Poll: Tribunal Orders Substituted Service of PDM’s Petition on Buhari

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Alex Enunah in Abuja 

A political party, Peoples Democratic Movement (PDM) yesterday got the nod of the Presidential Election Petition Tribunal to serve its petition challenging the outcome of the presidential election on President Muhammadu Buhari through his party, the All Progressives Congress (APC).

A three-man panel of the Court of Appeal Abuja, led by Justice Abdul Aboki, gave the permission to the PDM in a ruling on an exparte application brought before the Tribunal by the petitioners.

The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) had on February 27 declared Buhari as winner of the February 23 presidential election having won majority of the lawful votes cast at the poll.

However, four presidential candidates and their parties, including the PDM have filed separate petitions citing widespread rigging, violence, suppression of voters among other electoral malpractices as grounds for the nullification of the election of Buhari and the APC.

The PDM and its presidential candidate, Aminchi Have, however having filed their petition dated March 19, 2019, on Friday in an exparte application prayed the Court of Appeal in Abuja, for an order of the court to serve their petition on President Buhari and the APC through substituted service.

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 the 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.

“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 preparations 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.