Presidential election: Atiku files petition at tribunal, gathers 400 witnesses

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About 20 days after the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC declared President Muhammadu Buhari the, winner of the presidential election, Atiku Abubakar and the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP last night filed their petition before the tribunal, praying that they be declared the winners of the presidential election instead Buhari and the APC.

In the alternative, the two petitioners prayed the tribunal to nullify the poll and ordered for a fresh election that will be conducted in line with provisions of the electoral laws.

The respondents in the suit are the APC, President Buhari, and INEC.

Under section 134 of the Electoral Act, 2010, any candidate that is not satisfied with the outcome of the presidential contest, is mandated to approach the tribunal with a petition, not later than 21 days after the result was announced. The tribunal is also expected to deliver its judgment in writing within 180 days from the date the petition was filed.

At about 8pm last night, Atiku’s team of lawyers led by Mr. Chukwuma Machukwu Ume (SAN), Chief Mike Ozekhome (SAN), and Mr. Emeka Etiaba (SAN) were perfecting the filing process at the Central Registry of the Presidential Election Petition Tribunal (PEPT).

tribunal will conduct its proceedings at the Court of Appeal headquarters in Abuja. Though Atiku was yet to arrive at the tribunal where he was expected to personally depose to an affidavit, some PDP chieftains, including its spokesman, Mr. Kola Ologbodiyan and Alhaji Buba Galadima, accompanied the lawyers to the tribunal.

Addressing newsmen, PDP national legal adviser, Mr. Emmanuel Enoidem, said that Atiku would seek for two principal reliefs at the tribunal.

He said the first relief was for an order declaring him as the bonafide winner of the 2019 presidential election. In the alternative, Atiku and the PDP want the tribunal to nullify the presidential election on the premise that it was marred by irregularities.

“We asked that our candidate who won the election massively across the country be declared the winner. In the alternative, we also asked that the election be set aside on the ground of irregularities which were apparent across the country.

“We have a pool of 20 SANs who are tested in election petition matters and other senior lawyers who are working with them. We have also lined up more than 400 witnesses that are going to testify in this petition. Nigerians are at home with what happened on February 23, the sham they called an election. We are going to re-present those facts to Nigerians, we are not going to manufacture facts,” he said.

Also speaking, Mike Ozekhome told journalists that the petitioners encountered serious challenges in the hands of INEC which was reluctant to grant them access to the electoral materials.

“Our petition is quite solid, very strong and unassailable. We believe that by the grace of God, the original winner will regain his mandate”, Ozekhome added.

The tribunal had on March 6 ordered INEC to grant Atiku and the PDP access to all the electoral materials that were used for the presidential poll.

The tribunal, however, declined to allow Atiku and PDP to conduct forensic analysis on any of the electoral materials on the premise that such request was outside the scope of the Electoral Act, as amended.

In a counter-move, President Buhari and the APC, on March 14, also approached the tribunal and secured an order for INEC to grant them access to all the electoral materials. The tribunal, in two separate rulings, ordered the electoral body to forthwith, make available to President Buhari and the APC, both used and unused ballot papers it deployed across the 36 states of the federation and the Federal Capital Territory (FCT), for the purpose of the presidential poll.

Among other documents the tribunal granted the applicants leave to inspect included all the voters’ registers. It held that the applicants should also be allowed to obtain Certified True Copies of all the documents that were used at the polling units, wards, local governments, and state levels.


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