Atiku vs Buhari: Tribunal Fixes Date For Final Judgement
9 months ago festus dada 0
The presidential election tribunal is reportedly set to deliver the final judgement on September 15
PDP’s Atiku had on March 18, 2019 filed a petition challenging the victory of President Buhari of the APC in the 2019 general elections – Section 134 (1) to (3) of the Electoral Act provides that an election petition should be filed, heard and determined within 180 days The presidential election petitions tribunal is reportedly set to deliver judgement not later than 13th of September, 2019.
Leadership newspaper, quoting an anonymous source, reports that the initial date of September 15 set by the tribunal is no longer realistic because it is a Sunday.
The source claimed that the judgement will be delivered on September 13. “The petition of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) presidential candidate in the February 23 presidential election, Alhaji Atiku Abubakar, and his party, will definitely be decided before September 15.
’They (the tribunal) cannot go beyond that date in deciding the petition one way or the other because by law, that is how far they can go in the case. They can’t sit beyond that day. They are not permitted to do so by law. The 180 days stipulated by the law will elapse that day,’’ according to the source.
Section 134 (1) to (3) of the Electoral Act provides that an election petition should be filed, heard and determined within 180 days. Atiku had on March 18, 2019, filed a petition at the tribunal claiming that he and his party defeated President Muhammadu Buhari, the candidate of the All Progressives Congress (APC), who was declared the winner of the election by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC).
The tribunal, headed by Justice Mohammed Garba, which began its inaugural sitting on May 7, reserved the petition for judgement on August 21 after hearing the arguments of the parties before it
The PDP presidential candidate said that the election was marred by irregularities, adding that the president was not qualified and shouldn’t have been allowed to contest the election.
Atiku in his final address insisted that President Buhari lied on oath in his form CF001 which he presented to INEC before standing for the contest. In the final address presented on his behalf by his lead counsel, Dr Levy Uzuokwu (SAN), Atiku drew the attention of the tribunal to a portion of Buhari’s form with INEC where he claimed to have three different certificates comprising primary school leaving certificate, the West African Examination Council (WAEC) certificate and Officer Cadet’s certificate.
Atiku, therefore, urged the tribunal to nullify the participation of Buhari in the election on the grounds that he lied on oath to deceive Nigerians and to secure unlawful qualification for the election. The PDP presidential candidate also faulted the claim by INEC that it had no central server, adding that a server is a storage facility including computers where database of registered voters, number of permanent voter cards and election results amongst others are stored for references.
He, therefore, urged the tribunal to uphold the petition and nullify the participation of Buhari in the election on the ground that he was not qualified to have stood for the election, in addition to malpractices that prompted his declaration as the winner. But, INEC represented by Yunus Usman (SAN) urged the tribunal to dismiss the petition with substantial cost because the electoral body conducted the election in total compliance with the Nigerian constitution and Electoral Act 2010.
Usman insisted that INEC did not transmit election results electronically because doing so was prohibited by law and that the commission did not call any witness because there was no need to do so. INEC further explained that there was no way Atiku could have won the election, adding that he was not declared winner of the exercise because it was satisfied that the PDP candidate did not secure majority of lawful votes during the election.
In his defence, President Buhari through his legal team argued that Atiku’s petition was liable to be dismissed because it was lacking in evidence, merit and substance and that the petition is ill-advised and signified Nothing
He cited Section 131 of the constitution which stipulates a minimum of secondary school attendance to qualify for the election in Nigeria, adding that he cannot go beyond that and that he does not need to tender or attached certificates before he can get qualification for any election.
The APC represented by Prince Lateef Fagbemi (SAN) in its submission said that the petition lacked quality evidence that could warrant the nullification of the election as pleaded by the petitioners and urged the tribunal to dismiss the petition.