Journalism of Courage

Update: Tribunal rules on Atiku’s petition challenging Buhari’s victory

  • Dismisses INEC’s application questioning qualification Of Atiku’s Lawyer
  • Says Buhari qualified to contest 2019 Presidential election
  • Dismisses PDP’s major witness statement on INEC server
The rulling All Progressives Congress (APC), and the main opposition Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) are currently seated inside the Appeal Court, Abuja, where judgement is being delivered on the 2019 presidential election.
The presidential election petition tribunal will today deliver judgement in the petition brought by the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and its presidential candidate, Atiku Abubakar.
The PDP and its candidate are seeking to nullify the election of President Muhammadu Buhari in the February 23 presidential poll.
Presently in court is the Chairman of the ruling party, APC, Adams Oshiomole, Chairman of PDP, Uche Secondus and the Chief of Staff to the President, Abba Kyari.
Also in court is the governor of Kebbi State, Senator Atiku Bagudu; Minister of Labour and Productivity, Senator Chris Ngige; the Minister of Works and Housing, Raji Fashola; Plateau State Governor, Simon Lalong and the Minister of State for Niger Delta, Festus Keyamo (SAN).
The five-man panel of the tribunal include the Chairman, Justice Mohammed Garba,
Justice Peter Olabisi-Ige, Justice Abdul Aboki, Justice Joseph Ikyegh and Justice Samuel Oseji.
The panel is led by Justice Mohammed Garba.
The Presidential election tribunal on Wednesday, dismissed an application by Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), seeking the disqualification of Atiku Abubakar’s counsel, Livinus Uzoukwu SAN.
INEC’s counsel, Ustaz Yunus Usman, had argued that processes endorsed by Uzoukwu were invalid because he was not a lawyer known to the Nigerian Judiciary.
However, Chairman of the tribunal, Justice Mohammed Garba, reasoned that the March 18 list of counsel and list of witnesses and other processes filed before the tribunal are valid and competently signed by a legal practitioner whose name is on the Supreme Court of Nigeria’s roll of legal practitioners.
The tribunal noted that the petitioner’s counsel in his counter-affidavit proved beyond doubt that Uzoukwu is a legal practitioner.
Justice Garba said: “I have noted the processes, it is glaring that there is a seal of the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA), with the name of Levi Uzoukwu SAN on them.”
Also, the Tribunal chairman struck out PDP’s claims that Buhari did not possess certificate to contest the election and that he presented false information to INEC.
The Presidential Electoral Petition Tribunal ruled that President Muhammadu Buhari possess the West African School Certificate Examination, WASCE, to contest the 2019 presidential election.
The tribunal said Buhari was eminently qualified to contest the election, saying that the petitioners, Atiku Abubakar and PDP, could not run away from the fact that Buhari obtained WASCE that qualified him for the election.
The court said apart from being qualified, the president also obtained other certificates to validate claims that he is eminently qualified for the presidential poll.
Justice Garba, therefore struck out the claims by the PDP and Atiku that Buhari did not possess the needed qualification for the election and that he presented false information to INEC.
He added that the Electoral Act did not require certificate to be attached to form CF001, stating that for the fact that one attended school up to school certificate level was even enough to qualify one to contend an election.
He said evidence had shown that Buhari possessed WASCE and obtained credits in English Language, Geography, History and Hausa, plus a pass in English Literature.
In thesame vain, the Presidential Election Tribunal struck out statement of one of the major witness of the petition by Atiku Abubakar and PDP, Osita Chidoka, former aviation minister, about the existence of INEC server.
The tribunal, in striking out the statement concurred with the request by President Muhamadu Buhari and ruled that the statement was incompetent, having been filed in violation of the provision of the Electoral Act.
Chidoka had testified that an INEC server, where election results were stored existed, based on what he claimed INEC chairman, Mahmood Yakubu, consistently said.
However, cross-examined by INEC’s lawyer, Yunus Usman, the former aviation minister admitted he had never seen the server.
Pushed further by Usman, he admitted he was at the national collation centre and that the result was tallied manually.
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