By Vivian Okejeme, Abuja
A constitutional lawyer, Professor Ben Nwabueze SAN, is now leading the legal team of former Vice President Alhaji Atiku Abubakar and the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in their petition against the February 23 election of President Muhammadu Buhari.
With the view to solidify the legal arguments of the two petitioners against Buhari, the Octogenarian, at the commencement of the hearing, announced appearance as lead counsel for Atiku and PDP.
Speaking at the tribunal, Nwabueze lent his voice to the claims that the last presidential election was flawed and that remedy must be found if democracy is to flourish.
He prayed the tribunal to allow him use his wheelchair due to his age and health situation.
In a two page statement Nwabueze said, “The February/March 2019 General Election have come and gone, but the generality of Nigerians seem agreed that something was wrong with them, particularly the February Presidential Election.
“They suspect that the later was manipulated or, in more familiar language, rigged.
“What is not known is how or by whom the rigging was done. An Election Tribunal/Court is now saddled with the task, an intractable task, of finding out the truth about what happened.”
Eventually, the law professor announced that Dr. Levy Uzoukwu SAN, would take charge of yesterday’s proceedings.
Consequently, Uzoukwu commenced the trial by tendering electoral document, Form EC8C for Agaie Local Government Area of Niger State.
In reaction, Counsel to Muhammad Buhari, Mike Igbokwe (SAN), protested and call for a halt of the proceedings.
He complained that he was only served with the petitioners’ schedule of documents shortly before the commencement of sitting.
This, he said, was contrary to the agreement that the schedule would be filed and served far ahead of proceedings.
Counsel for the Independent National Electoral Commission, Yunus Usman (SAN), and the All Progressives Congress’ Yakubu Maikyau (SAN), also opposed the move.
However, the five-man panel led by Justice Mohammed Garba, dismissed the respondents’ request for the suspension of the trial.
The petitioners later tendered election results from polling units, wards and local governments in Niger State to formally kick start hearing of the substantive petition against Buhari’s election.
However, INEC objected to tendering of the results along with President Muhammadu Buhari and the All Progressive Congress (APC).
The tribunal chairman Justice Mohammed Lawal Garba who admitted the results as exhibits told counsel to INEC, Buhari and APC to defer their objection to the point of address to the tribunal as earlier agreed by parties during the pre-hearing session.
A total number of certified true copies of documents from Niger State exhibited at the tribunal was 3, 465.
Further proceedings continues today.