Alex Enumah in Abuja
The Presidential Election Petition Tribunal yesterday reserved judgment in the Hope Democratic Party’s (HDP) petition challenging the conduct of the February 23 presidential election that returned President Muhammadu Buhari for a second term in office.
The Chairman of the tribunal, Justice Mohammed Garba, reserved judgment after parties in the petition had adopted their final written addresses.
The presidential candidate of the HDP, Chief Ambrose Owuru and his party had on March 7 filed their petitions seeking the nullification of Buhari’s election, claiming that the conduct of the election by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) was illegal, null and void.
They also asked the five-man panel to declare them winner of the presidential poll having been elected president by 50 million Nigerians through a referendum conducted on February 16, 2019.
The petitioners in adopting their written addresses through their counsel, Chukwunoyerem Njoku, urged the tribunal to set aside the election of February 23 because INEC did not follow condition precedent in the Electoral Act before postponing the election earlier scheduled for February 16.
On his part, Buhari, represented by Wole Olanipekun (SAN), urged the tribunal to dismiss the petition on the grounds that it is frivolous, baseless and lacking in merit.
Olanipekun told the tribunal that the petitioners did not in any way adduce evidence on how the referendum was conducted and who conducted it in line with the provisions of the law.
He told the tribunal that he had studied carefully the final address of the HDP and its presidential candidate and there was no where they made any case against the president.
He therefore urged the tribunal to dismiss their petition for being incompetent and lacking in merit.
Also asking for the dismissal of the petition is counsel to INEC, Yunus Usman (SAN), who prayed for an award of substantial cost to serve as a deterrent to those who may wish to file frivolous and baseless petitions in the 2023 elections.
Usman argued that the petition lacked merit because the electoral body conducted an election and not a referendum and that the claims of the two petitioners are strange to the electoral umpire.
He therefore urged the tribunal to uphold the declaration of Buhari as winner of the February 23 lawful presidential election.
The All Progressives Congress (APC) in its own final address argued by Chief Akin Olujimi (SAN) similarly prayed for the dismissal of the petition on the grounds that it was misconceived by the two petitioners.
After listening to all counsel in the matter, Justice Garba reserved judgment to a date that would be communicated to the parties.