ECOWAS Court to Hear Petition against Buhari April 1

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Chuks Okocha in Abuja

The Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) court will on April 1 hear a presidential petition against the election of President Muhammadu Buhari as the duly elected president of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.

The petition filed by the presidential candidate of the Hope Democratic Party (HDP), Chief Ambrose Owueu, in suit No: ECW/CCJ/APP/45/19 is filed by Odion Peter Ebhoaye, representing the HDP.

According to a copy of the hearing notice obtained by THISDAY, “Notice is hereby given that this application has been fixed for hearing on April 1, 2020, at 10 0’clock, and will be heard on that day if the business of the court permits or otherwise on some adjourned day of which you may not receive further notice.”

The ECOWAS court notice further said: “If either party desires to postpone the date for hearing, he must apply to the court as soon as possible for that purpose, and if the application is based on any matter of fact, he must be prepared to make proof of those facts.

“Note that at the close of pleadings, and without prejudice to any special provisions laid down in the rules of the court, the court shall after hearing the parties decide on the measure of inquiry that it considers appropriate. Without prejudice to Article 16 of the protocol relating to the Community Court of Justice, the following measures of inquiry may be adopted, which are ‘the personal appearance of the parties; a request for information and production of documents; oral testimony; the commissioning of an expert’s report and an inspection of the place or thing in question’.”

In accordance with the rules of the court, the president shall fix the date for the opening of the oral procedure after the preparatory inquiry has been completed. At the oral procedure, a party may address the court only through his agent, adviser or lawyer.

The notice of hearing also said: “In order to qualify for the privileges, immunities and facilities specified in Article 28 of the Rules of the Community Court of Justice, persons entitled to them should furnish proof of their status as follows: ‘Agents shall produce an official document issued by the party for whom they act, and shall forward without delay a copy therefore to the Chief Registrar.

“Advisers and lawyers should produce a certificate signed by the Chief Registrar.”

The HDP presidential candidate, Owuru, in a suit by one of his lawyers, Yusufu Ibrahim, on behalf of Chief A. A. Owuru and Owuru presidential campaign organisation (OPCD) is seeking appropriate redress as candidate and acclaimed winners of the February 16, 2019 presidential election.

Documents made available to THISDAY showed that HDP on December 4, 2019, filed an application against the Federal Republic of Nigeria for the court’s determination of the presidential petition already decided.

Ibrahim alleged that the decision to seek relief at the ECOWAS court is because the Supreme Court in Nigeria is partisan as well as divided, and therefore cannot be relied upon to see that justice is done to the presidential petitions of its client, Owuru.