By Vivian Okejeme Abuja
The Presidential Election Petition Tribunal, yesterday, dismissed the petition of the Hope Democratic Party (HDP), challenging the conduct of the February 23rd presidential election that produced President Muhammadu Buhari as the winner.
The tribunal led by Justice Mohamad Garba, in unanimous decision held that the petitioners failed to prove the allegations that they were excluded by Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC,) in the February 23 presidential election.
The tribunal further held that the petition which was based on a purported referendum held on February 16, 2019 was outside the jurisdiction of the tribunal.
The five man panel of justice noted that the tribunal’s duty is to determine whether a person was validly elected into office or not.
Justice Garba, in his lead judgement held that the petition was pre-election matter and ought to be presented at a Federal or State High Court and not the tribunal.
Therefore, the tribunal dismissed the petition on the ground of being a pre-election matter and was filled outside the 14 days provided by the law.
The presidential candidate of the HDP, Chief Ambrose Owuru, and his party, HDP, had on March 7 filed their petition seeking the nullification of President Buhari’s election on grounds that the conduct of the election on February 23 by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) was illegal, null and void.
Further in their argument, the petitioners challenged the postponement of the presidential election earlier scheduled for February 16 to February 23, 2019.
Therefore, they asked the five man panel to declare them winner of the presidential poll having been elected president by 50 million Nigerians through a referendum conducted on February 16, 2019.