- As party withdraws case against Buhari
By Vivian Okejeme Abuja
The Presidential Election Petition Tribunal sitting in Abuja, has got a replacement for its chairman in the person of Justice Mohammed Garba of the Lagos Division of the Court of Appeal
This came following the resignation of the former chairman, Justice Zainab Bulkachuwa, who stepped aside as chairman of the tribunal.
This is even as the tribunal had adjourned to hear six pending applications filed by the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, and its candidate, Alhaji Atiku Abubakar, challenging President Muhammadu Buhari’s re-election.
On May 22, Justice Bulkachuwa recused herself from heading the panel, following a petition that was lodged against her by the PDP and its candidate, Atiku.
According to the petitioners, the President of the court of Appeal, whose husband and son are active card-carrying members of the All Progressives Congress, APC, will be bias in the tribunal decision.
More so, petitions challenging Buhari’s re-election have dropped to three as the Coalition For Change, C4C and its presidential candidate, Geff Chizee Ojinka, withdrew their petition.
When the tribunal reconvened yesterday, counsel to the party, Mr. Obed Agu, informed the tribunal that it filed a notice to discontinue the case against Buhari.
The petitioners had specifically asked the tribunal to nullify re seeking the February 23 presidential poll on the premise that its party logo was not included in the ballot papers.
The party who urged the tribunal to strike out their case, however, didn’t state the reason behind their action.
Reacting to the development, Counsel to Buhari, Chief Wole Olanipekun, SAN, that of the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, Yunuz Uztaz, SAN, and of the APC, Prince Lateef Fagbemi, SAN, did not oppose the application.
Following the application, the five-man panel led by Justice Garba, dismissed the petition and adjourned to June 17 to hear Atiku’s applications.
Earlier when addressing the court, counsel to the petitioner , Livy Izoukwu SAN said he has six different applications that are pending before the tribunal .
In his own submission, counsel to INEC , Usman said he had four different applications pending before the tribunal.
“The first application filed on April 23 is praying the tribunal to dismiss the the petition for lack of compliance with with paragraph 18(1) of the Electoral Act. The second application filed on April 24 is praying the tribunal to strike out some paragraphs in the petition and the entire petition.
“The third one is filed on May 25 and it is praying the court to bring an application seeking to hear that opposition during pre – hearing session.
“The fourth application is praying the tribunal to strike out the petition for failing to join Vice President Yemi Oshibajo”.
For counsel to Buhari, Olanipekun informed the court that he filed three applications .
He added that the first application filed on May 14 is praying tribunal for dismissal of the entire petition and that second application also filed on May 14 is praying the tribunal to strike out the reply filed by the petitioners to his reply.
“The third application is also dated May 14 and it is praying for a slight amendment in his respondent reply”.
However, arguing for APC, Fagbemi informed the tribunal that he filed three applications.
“The first and second applications we’re filed on May 14. They are essential asking for the striking out of the petition or certain paragraphs in the petition”.