Presidential election dispute: Tribunal to hear Atiku, PDP’s fresh motion, July 1

June 26, 2019
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Proceedings ended unexpectedly on Wednesday before the Presidential Election Petition Tribunal (PEPT) owing to the request by lawyer to Atiku Abubakar and his party, the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Chris Uche (SAN) for an adjournment to enable his clients react to the responses filed against a fresh motion by Atiku and the PDP.

Atiku and his party are challenging the outcome of the last presidential election before the tribunal. Although they came second behind President Muhammadu Buhari of the All Progressives Congress (APC), they claimed to have won based on some results they gleaned from a central server purportedly utilized by the electoral body, the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to transmit the result of the election.

The PEPT, in a ruling on June 24, 2019 declined the petitioners’ request to be allowed access to the supposed server, which existence INEC has denied. The tribunal adjourned till June 26, 2019 for further pre-hearing session.

At the resumption of proceedings on Wednesday, the petitioners were expected to exhibit zeal in the pursuit of their petition, but their lawyer took all by surprise when he prayed the tribunal for an adjournment to enable them file replies-on-point-of-law to the respondents’ replies to the petitioners’ fresh motion seeking to quash the proceedings conducted on June 11, 2019 by the tribunal.

Lawyers to the respondents – INEC, Buhari and APC – Yunus Usman (SAN), Yusuf Ali (SAN) and Lateef Fagbemi did not object to Uhce’s request for an adjournment.

But, on second thought, Uche urged the tribunal to conduct other necessary pre-hearing businesses in relation to the petition rather than wasting the entire day, a request respondents’ lawyers objected,

Usman, Ali and Fagbemi said they could only concede should the petitioners withdraw their fresh motion or reply orally, a suggestion Uche rejected and insisted on filing replies to the respondents’ responses.

Ruling, PEPT’s Chairman, Justice Mohammed Garba said the tribunal would prefer to conclude the hearing of all pending applications/motions before delving into other businesses in relation to the petition.

Justice Garba adjourned till July 1, 2019 for the hearing of the fresh motion by the petitioners and the consideration of any other pre-hearing issues.

In the fresh motion filed on June 18, 2019 Atku and the PDP are praying the tribunal to set aside its proceedings of June 11, 2019 during which it accepted as undefended, an application filed by the APC, in which the party sought the striking out of the petition on the grounds that it was defective.

In a ruling on June 11, 2019 the tribunal held the petitioners failed to file the required counter-affidavit against the application by the APC and recorded the application as unchallenged.

It is that ruling that Atiku and the PDP, by their fresh motion, want the tribunal to set aside, a request the respondents have also opposed with their various counter applications, some of which Uhce said were served on him late, and in respect of which he sought an adjournment to enable his team reply.

In the application accepted by the tribunal as undefended, the APC wants the tribunal to dismiss the petition by Atiku and the PDP, or alternatively, strike out several paragraphs that were not supported by facts and laws.
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