By Alex Enumah in Abuja
The Presidential Election Petition Tribunal has dismissed two separate applications seeking the dismissal of the petition of the Peoples Democratic Movement (PDM) against the outcome of the February 23 presidential election which produced President muhammadu Buhari as winner.
The candidate of the PDM, Aminchi Habu, and the PDM are challenging their exclusion from the February 23 presidential election.
They are asking the tribunal to nullify the February 23 presidential poll and conduct a fresh one which would include them.
However, both the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) and President Buhari in response to the petition had urged the Presidential Election Petition Tribunal to dismiss the PDM’s petition on the grounds of non compliance with section 18(1) of the 1st Schedule of the Electoral Act.
In their separate motions, counsel to INEC and Buhari, Yunus Usman SAN and Chief Wole Olanipekun SAN claimed that the petitioners failed to apply for pre-hearing notice of their petition within the 7 days required by law.
Usman in his submission said the application not filed within time is deemed to have been abandoned and asked the tribunal to dismiss the petition.
But the petitioners in opposing the motions claimed that the application was made well within the time provided by law.
Counsel to the petitioners, Aliyu Lemu, accordingly urged the tribunal to dismiss the motions for being frivolous and lacking merit.
Delivering ruling, the tribunal however dismissed the two applications for being unmeritorous.
The panel held that findings from its own record showed that the application of petitioners was actually made a day after pleadings were closed in the petition.
The tribunal held that pleadings closed on April 29 with the last reply of the 1st respondent, while the petitioners had applied for the notice of pre-hearing on April 30, “well within the 7 days provided by law.”
“The petition cannot be deemed to have been abandoned. Application is lacking in merit, it is accordingly refused and dismissed”, Justice Garba held.