- Peter Obi represents Atiku, as hearing shifts to May 15
By Vivian Okejeme Abuja
The Presidential Election Petition Tribunal (PEPT) led by Justice Zainab Bulkachuwa, has barred counsel and parties from public discussion of the matter as it progresses.
This is even as the Tribunal has fixed May 15 for a pre-hearing session on the petition filed by the Peoples Democratic Party and its presidential candidate, Alhaji Atiku Abubakar.
Atiku Abubakar and his party (PDP) had approached the PEPT, challenging the result of 2019 Presidential election.
Justice Bulkachuwa, called for caution against public and media discussion of the matter at the inaugural sitting of the tribunal yesterday.
She warned that the proceedings should be treated as a low-profile case, where proceedings in court are not discussed publicly until a decision is pronounced by the court.
According to her, the tribunal have empaneled 78 panels to cover the Election Tribunals in all states of the Federation excluding Jigawa State where no election petition had been filed.
She further informed that they are presently 786 petitions, with Imo State having the highest number of 76 petitions which necessitated the posting of 6 panels to the state.
She assured that litigants in the four pending presidential election petitions filed before the tribunal would be given equal opportunity to present their case “We are witness to what has been happening in high profile cases where such cases are being discussed and publicly decided prematurely in both the social and electronic media before the announcement of the verdict by the court.
“We pray that this time would be an exception for the benefit of the nation. We don’t expect counsel to any of the parties to hype the polity after any sitting by making a public analysis in the media as to what transpired in court.
“This admonition is also extended to the parties, their respective counsel and the members of the press.’’
Continuing she said, ‘’We on our own part will make relevant information available as and when due.
“Any breach will not be condoned, and we will not hesitate in taking necessary action against such offenders,’’ she warned.
Other members of the panel include Justices Abdul Aboki, Joseph Ikyegh, Samuel Oseji and Peter Olabisi Ige.
The Vice Presidential candidate of the PDP, Peter Obi was at the inaugural sitting at the tribunal and announced representation for Atiku.
There are a total of four petitions filed to challenge the victory of President Muhammadu Buhari and his All Progressives Congress in the February 23 poll.
The Chairman of the tribunal, Justice Zainab Bulkachuwa, after conducting its inaugural sitting, went on to call each case one after the other.
Atiku and the Peoples Democratic Party(PDP) had in a petition marked CA/PEPC/002/2019, dated March 18, is challenging Buhari election as the President.
Hope Democratic Party, HDP, Chief Ambrose Owuru, had in the second petition marked CA/PEPC/002/2019/, is also challenging Buhari’s emergence as the winner of the presidential poll.
While the third petition, CA/PEPC/004/2019, was instituted by the presidential candidate of the Peoples Democratic Movement, (PDMl, Pastor Aminchi Habu, who is seeking a fresh election on the basis that his party’s logo was not included in the ballot paper.
While the fourt petition with suit No. CA/PEPC/003/2019, was filed by the Coalition For Change, C4C and its presidential candidate, Geff Chizee Ojinka.
They alleged that President Buhari’s re-election was not with substantial noncompliance with mandatory statutory provisions. Other pending interlocutory applications are to be heard at the next sittings.