The Presidential Election Petition Tribunal, on Wednesday, commenced hearing in the petitions filed by the presidential candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) Alhaji Atiku Abubakar, his party and three other political parties challenging the declaration of President Muhammadu Buhari as winner of the 2019 presidential poll.
It also urged parties to shun actions that may put the panel in a negative light.
Chairman of the five-member panel, Justice Zainab Bulkachuwa, who made the appeal, at the special sitting of the panel, specifically warned counsel and parties in the various petitions to avoid discussing daily proceedings of the tribunal in the media and other public space.
Bulkachuwa, however, warned that the tribunal would not hesitate to wield the big stick against anyone found culpable in that regard, adding that the task of the tribunal is a serious national assignment and must be seen as such by all.
The chairman who stressed that no matter how an election was conducted, there are bound to be complaints, hence the establishment of the tribunal to give speedy hearing on such complaints.
Bulkachuwa, disclosed that there are currently 786 petitions against the outcome of the 2019 general election, with Imo State having the highest number of 76 and 6 tribunals.
The presiding judge assured that the panel would be fair to all and would give equal time to all litigants, in its efforts at ensuring that justice is done and done expeditiously in all the cases before it.
Responding, counsels in the matters promised to play by the rules and give maximum cooperation to the panel.
While Senior Advocate of Nigeria, Levi Ozoukwu is leading the legal team of Atiku and the PDP, Wole Olanipekun SAN and Lateef Fagbemi SAN are leading that of Buhari and APC respectively.
Other members of the presidential panel include Justices Abdul Aboki, Samuel Osiji, Joseph Ikyegh and Peter Olabisi-Igeh.
The tribunal in stating that Proceedings would be on a daily basis called the first case, the petition of the Hope Democratic Party (HDP) and his Presidential candidate, Chief Albert Owuru.
At the end of the identification and regularization of processes filed in the HDP petition, Justice Bulkachuwa fixed May 14 for pre-hearing of the petition.
For that of Atiku and PDP against INEC, Buhari and APC, the tribunal adjourned the matter to May 15.
However, the tribunal declined to give a definite date for hearing in the petition of Coalition for Change (C4C) and Peoples Democratic Movement (PDM), following the inability of the two petitioners to serve processes on Buhari and other respondents.
Meanwhile, the tribunal declined to hear an exparte application filed by the C4C, praying for substituted service on President Buhari and his Vice, Prof Yemi Osinbajo, following flaws in the motion.
Among others, the tribunal found that the exparte application filed by Obed Agu, was not competent in law because it was not signed, and the seal of the counsel was not fixed as required by law. Adding that there was no affidavit in support of the motion.
Faced with the rejection, the counsel withdrew the application and told the tribunal that a fresh one would be filed in its place.
Supreme court dismisses Atiku server suit
The Supreme Court on Tuesday dismissed the appeal by the presidential candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in the February 23 election, Atiku Abubakar, seeking to Inspect the central server of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) for lacking in merit.
The apex court held that the request lacked merit because it was brought by Atiku after the parties had joined issues on the existence or otherwise of the server.
According to the unanimous judgment delivered by Justice Chima Nweze, the Presidential Election Petition Tribunal was in order in refusing to grant Atiku’s request at the time it was made so as not to prejudice other parties in the matter.
In addition, the apex court held that the appeal lacked merit because the appellants failed to prove how the decision of the tribunal was unfair to them.
Justice Nweze said a party can only complain of the lack of fair hearing when discretion of court was wrongly or arbitrarily used by the court, adding that in this instant case the tribunal used its discretion judicially and judiciously.
“I see no reason to depart from the decision of the lower court, the appeal is lacking in merit and is hereby dismissed,” the judge held.
Supreme Court set to rule on INEC server
The Supreme Court has suspended proceedings to rule on an appeal by the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and its candidate in the last presidential election, for permission to be allowed access to a supposed server owned by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC).
The Presidential Election Petition Court (PEPC) had on June 24, 2019, dismissed an application by Atiku and the PDP requesting permission to have access to the central server, which they claimed INEC used for the February 23 poll.
It is the decision of June 24 that Atiku and the PDP now appealed at the Supreme Court.
A panel of the Supreme Court (led by Justice Datijo Mohammed after taking arguments from Eyitayo Jegede, SAN, (for the appellants); Yunus Usman, SAN, (for INEC); Wole Olanipekun, SAN, (for President Muhammadu Buhari) and Charles Edosomwan, SAN, (for the All Progressives Congress), rose briefly to consider the arguments and return for its decision.
The Election Petition Court, at the Court of Appeal, Abuja, had, while dismissing the application by Atiku and the PDP, held that INEC, having denied the existence of the said server and insisted that results of the election were not electronically transmitted into any server as claimed by the petitioners (Atiku and PDP), granting the application would amount to deciding the central issue in the petition at the interlocutory stage.
The court’s Presiding Justice, Justice Mohammed Garba, who read the ruling, added that granting the application would imply that the court had “indeed recognised and found out that there is a central server into which results of the held on February 23, 2019 were electronically transmitted by the 1st respondent (INEC).”
Buhari tasks ministers on team work
President Muhammadu Buhari yesterday in Abuja told ministers-designate that they must work as a team, stressing that his administration would rely on them to implement policies and programs to lift Nigerians out of poverty.
The president also described as frightening Nigeria’s “looming” population status, which he put at 200 million today but has been estimated by the United Nations (UN) to rise to 411 million by 2050.
He told the would-be ministers in Abuja at the opening of the two-day retreat for them that “working as a team demands that we know what the next person is doing.”
The retreat is to familiarise the incoming cabinet members with governance process and to let them know expectations of them.
The retreat also began on a day the Federal High Court, sitting in Abuja, refused to grant an order by indigenes of the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) seeking to stop the president from swearing in the 43 ministers-designate.
In his speech at the retreat, Buhari said: “As ministers, I am counting on you together with advisers and Nigerians willing and able to contribute to building upon our road map of policies, programs, and projects that will lift the bulk of our people out of poverty and set them on the road to prosperity.
“Our administration’s eight years will have laid the grounds for lifting 100 million Nigerians out of poverty in 10 years. This outcome will fundamentally shift Nigeria’s trajectory and place us among the world’s great nations.”
The president also told participants at the retreat to see their appointments as a great privilege and to ensure that they put in their best because Nigeria needs frontline individuals to address its many challenges.
He warned them to prepare for arduous commitments, which would require long hours of work and acute labor all geared towards optimal performance.
Buhari seized the occasion to give account of activities of his administration in the first term.
He said: “First – we have rolled back the frontiers of terrorism; we are actively addressing other challenges such as kidnappings, farmer-herder violence, improving the safety of our roads, railways, air traffic and fire control capacities.
“Second – we are steadily turning the economy round through investment in agriculture and manufacturing, shoring up our foreign reserves, curbing inflation and improving the country’s infrastructure.
“Third – on corruption, we have recovered hundreds of billions of stolen assets and are actively pursuing control measures to tackle leakages in public resources. We will not let up in fighting corruption.”
BREAKING: S’Court strikes out Atiku, PDP suit
The Supreme Court has struck out an appeal filed by the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and its candidate in the last presidential election.
The appeal marked SC/738/2019 was filed against a ruling of the Presidential Election Petition Court (PEPC), in which it held that the Atiku and the PDP do not have a reply to an application filed on May 14, 2019, by the All Progressives Congress (APC) seeking among others, the dismissal of their (Atiku and the PDP) challenging President Muhammadu Buhari’s victory at the last presidential election.
In a ruling on Tuesday, a five-man panel led by Justice Datijo Mohammed struck out the appeal for having become statute-barred.
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