President Muhammadu Buhari, the All Progressives Congress (APC) and the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) have asked the Presidential Election Petitions Tribunal sitting Abuja to dismiss the petition filed by the Presidential candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Alhaji Atiku Abubakar and his party, challenging the February 23 election that produced Buhari.
The Tribunal had, however, while reserving ruling in the applications, yesterday, fixed tomorrow to hear two pending applications filed by the petitioners.
Specifically, the applications are praying the tribunal for an order to inspect the INEC server and consequently file its report before the panel.
In all, the tribunal heard nine applications yesterday, while both the INEC and APC withdrew two applications.
The petitioners had filed six different applications, INEC filed four, Buhari and APC filed three each.
However, at the resumed hearing, the INEC, through its counsel, Ustaz Yunus Usman (SAN), withdrew one of its applications praying the tribunal to strike out some paragraphs from the petition.
In the same vein, the APC, through its counsel, Lateef Fagbemi (SAN), also withdrew one of its applications seeking to strike out some paragraphs from the petition.
Earlier, while adopting their different applications, the three respondents – Buhari, APC and INEC – asked the tribunal to dismiss the petition filed by Atiku and PDP.
President Buhari made the prayer through his counsel, Chief Wole Olanipekun (SAN), in a motion adopted and argued before the Justice Mohammed Garba-led five-man panel.
Olanipekun submitted that the petition was fundamentally defective, adding that his client won the presidential “square and clear’’.
He explained that the allegations advanced by the petitioners were mere theoretical assumptions that could not stand the test of critical legal debate.
The tribunal also entertained the president’s motion that sought to effect amendment on the identities and addresses of counsel representing him.
Another of Buhari’s application seeking to mandate the tribunal to entertain all interlocutory motions before the commencement of proper hearing of the main petition was also adopted and argued.
INEC asked the tribunal to dismiss the petition brought by PDP and Atiku against a “flawless’’ election that was won by Buhari.
Usman, counsel for INEC, said that the electoral commission would stand by the declaration of the second respondent (Buhari) as winner of the February 23 presidential election.
Usman said the petition challenging the outcome of the exercise was “misguided’’, adding that the allegations of fraud made against the electoral body was “mischievous’’.
He further urged the tribunal to dismiss the petition as the petitioners failed to include the vice president, Prof. Yemi Osinbajo, as a co-winner in the election.
“The failure of the PDP and Atiku to include Osinbajo’s name should not be overlooked because whatever affects the president affects his running mate,’’ Usman said.
APC hinged its application on the ground that the petitioner failed to join Vice President Yemi Osinbajo.
It further argued that it collated the results of the election manually and never transmitted them electronically as argued by the petitioners.
The ruling party added that it kept no server where results could have been transmitted electronically and stored as alleged by the petitioners.
Fagbemi, counsel for the APC, had urged the tribunal to strike out 18 paragraphs of the petition with frivolous assumptions among other prayers.
He submitted that the competence of the petition was questionable, adding that it would soon become a mere “lame duck’’.
However, Dr. Levi Uzoukwu (SAN), counsel for the petitioners, prayed the tribunal to discountenance all the arguments canvassed by the respondents, describing INEC’s position in the matter as “unusual”.
Buhari, in his own application, prayed the tribunal to strike out some paragraphs of the petition, as that will make the petition unmeritorious.
APC, in his own application, also prayed the tribunal to dismiss the petition, as it lacked jurisdiction to entertain it because some sections of the Electoral Act was not complied with.
However, the petitioners, in their application filed on May 8, maintained that INEC kept “central servers” in which “information was recorded and stored in database packets relating to accreditation of voters and transmission of results from the presidential election.”
The applicants filed 13 grounds to back their application and their claims in it.
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