Tribunal Dismisses Atiku’s Petition against Buhari’s Election
The Presidential Election Petition Tribunal on Wednesday dismissed the petition filed by Atiku Abubakar and his party, the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), challenging the victory of President Muhammadu Buhari in the February 23 presidential poll.
The five man tribunal in a unanimous judgment held that the petitioners failed to prove allegations of electoral malpractice, violence amongst others claimed in their petition.
Atiku and PDP in their joint petition filed on March 18, 2019, specifically asked the tribunal to disqualify Buhari, winner of the February 23 presidential election, on the grounds that he (Buhari) did not possess the requisite academic qualification to contest for the office of President.
The petition was premised on five grounds, among which that Buhari lied about his academic qualification as well as schools attended in his form 001 submitted to INEC for purpose of contesting the 2019 presidential election.
However, in the lead judgment delivered by chairman of the tribunal, Justice Mohammed Garba, the tribunal held that the petitioners did not discharge the burden of proof and as such dismissed the petition.
Apart from the issue of alleged non qualification and submission of information of fundamental falsehood to the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) by Buhari to aid his qualification, other issues the petitioners raised include deployment of electronic voting, over voting, substantial non compliance with the electoral law as well as use of security agencies to rig the election in favour of Buhari.
However, the tribunal in the unanimous decision held that despite the 62 witnesses called by the petitioners, they were unable to prove their allegations against the conduct of the February 23 presidential polls.
The tribunal further held that the petitioners failed to prove that Buhari presented false information of fundamental falsehood to INEC to aid his qualification. The tribunal accordingly resolved the issue against the petitioners.
In addition, the tribunal said that the petitioners failed to prove that Buhari did not possess a West African School certificate as claimed in their petition.
“Second respondent has more than secondary school certificate having attended various courses. He is not only qualified, he is eminently qualified”, the tribunal said.
The presidential election petition tribunal has ruled that President Muhammadu Buhari possessed the requisite academic qualifications to contest the February 23 presidential election.
Atiku and PDP are challenging the election of President Buhari on grounds that he did not attach his certificate to his form 001 submitted to INEC to aid his qualification for the said election.
Delivering ruling, the five man tribunal led by Justice Mohammed Garba held that evidences both oral and documentary proved that Buhari had more than secondary school certificate required to contest the election.
The tribunal in reaching this conclusion said that the mere fact that Buhari did not attach copies of his certificate to his form 001 submitted to INEC was not enough prove that he was not educated up to secondary school level.
The tribunal noted that there was no law that requires a candidate seeking election into office to attach his certificate to his form 001.
Tribunal resumes sitting.
Tribunal proceeds on a short break.
Tribunal strikes out suit seeking disqualification of Atiku on alleged Cameroonian citizenship.
Buhari in his reply to Atiku’s petition seeking his disqualification for not possessing prerequisite academic qualifications for the office of President had urged the court to disqualify Atiku on grounds that he was not a Nigerian.
According to Buhari and APC, Jada, the birth place of Atiku in 1946 belonged to Cameroon and not part of Northern Nigeria.
However in its ruling the court held that the respondents ought to file a cross petition against the qualification of Atiku for the February 23 polls and not to use it as defence.
On the prayer seeking to strike out part of the petition for failure of the petitioners to include the military as a necessary party, the tribunal agreed with INEC that the allegations of intimidation, harrassment and others made against the security agencies was a serious allegation of crime and ought to be made necessary parties in the suit.
The tribunal accordingly struck out all the portions of paragraphs where allegations were made against the security agencies.
On the prayer seeking to strike out part of the petition challenging the non qualification of Buhari for being statute bar, the tribunal held that by virtue of section 138, a case bordering on the qualification of a candidate is both a pre-election and post election matter hence the tribunal had jurisdiction to hear the petition.
On the first prayer, the court held that Dr Levy Uzuokwu SAN who signed the list of documents to be tendered in support of the petition as well as the list of petitioners’ witnesses was a legal practitioner whose name is on the role of lawyers in the supreme court. The prayer was accordingly rejected.
INEC submission is that the list of documents and witnesses having not signed by a non legal practitioner renders the petition incompetent.
The tribunal is set to rule on another motion by INEC seeking to strike out the list of documents and petitioners’ witnesses for being incompetent. The motion was filed on April 25.
The motion also sought for striking out of certain paragraphs in the petition bordering on over voting, electoral malpractices, intimidation, violence amongst others because the petitioners failed to join necessary parties like the military and other security agencies
The tribunal in a unanimous judgment accordingly dismissed application for not being properly grounded in law
In its ruling, the court held that the non joining of the vice president cannot render the petition incompetent because the VP was not a necessary party whose absence would make it impossible for the tribunal to proceed with the hearing of the petition.
Tribunal commences with ruling on a motion filed by INEC seeking to strike out the petition on grounds that the petition failed to join the Vice President, Yemi Osinbajo, in the suit.
Presiding justice of the presidential election petition tribunal, Justice Mohammed Garba, just led other members of the panel into court to deliver the verdict on Atiku’s petition against Buhari’s election. Other members of the panel are, Abdul Aboki, Joseph Ikyeghi, Samuel Osiji and Peter Ige.
Also in court now is National Chairman of the PDP, Chief Uche Secondus, PDP chieftain and Chairman of DAAR Communications PLC, Chief Raymond Dokpesi
Former EFCC chairman, Nuhu Ribadu, and Minister of Labour and Productivity, Dr Chris Ngige, just arrived.
Other dignitaries who just arrived include; Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami SAN, National Chairman of the APC, Comrade Adams Oshiomhole, cousin of President Buhari, Mamman Daura, minister of Works and Housing, Raji Fashola.
Lalong, Kyari, Keyamo Among Dignitaries in Court
By Alex Enumah in Abuja
The governor of Plateau State, Simon Lalong, Chief of Staff to President Muhammadu Buhari, Abba Kyari, and Minister of State for Niger Delta, Festus Keyamo SAN, are among the early dignitaries in court for the judgment of the Presidential Election Petition Tribunal billed to commence any moment from now.
The five member panel headed by Justice Mohammed Garba had Tuesday announced that it would deliver its verdict in the petition filed by candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Atiku Abubakar against the election of President Buhari.
Atiku and his party, the PDP had dragged the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), Buhari and the All Progressives Congress (APC) before the tribunal over alleged electoral malpractices, violence amongst others.
In the petition filed on March 18 they are asking the tribunal to annul the victory of Buhari on grounds that the election was rigged in his favour.
They also asked the tribunal to sack Buhari on grounds that he was not qualified to have contested the election in the first place having not possessed necessary academic qualifications for the office of President.
Security Beefed up Around Appeal Court as Tribunal Delivers Judgement in Atiku Vs Buhari Suit
Security was beefed up on Wednesday within the vicinity of the Court of Appeal, Abuja, as the Presidential Election Petition Tribunal delivers judgment in the petition filed by Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and its candidate, Atiku Abubakar challenging president Muhammadu Buhari’s victory in the Feb. 23 general election.
Security personnel comprising mainly men of the Nigeria Police, the Department of State Services and the Nigerian Security and Civil Defence Corps mounted security checks at both ends of the stretch of the road to the court.
According to the News Agency of Nigeria, Lawyers and journalists who arrived the court premises located in the Three Arms Zone, were subjected to checks by security personnel.
The tribunal had on Aug.21 reserved judgment in the petition after parties adopted their addresses.
Justice Mohammed Garba, Chairman of the five-man panel of justices, had stated that the judgment date would be communicated to parties.
President Buhari was declared winner of the election after scoring 15,191,847 votes as against Atiku’s 11, 262,978 votes.