Andrew Orolua, Abuja
President Muhammadu Buhari on Tuesday asked the Presidential Election Petition Tribunal (PEPT) sitting in Abuja to strike out the entire petition filed by Atiku Abubakar and the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) for being fundamentally defective.
Buhari made the prayer argued on his behalf by his lead counsel, Chief Wole Olanipekun, SAN, at the resumed pre-hearing of the petitions by the five-man panel of justices of the tribunal.
Buhari, who also filed two other applications, prayed the tribunal to alternatively strike out 18 itemized paragraphs of the petitioners’ reply to the respondent’s reply to the main petition for being defective.
The president also prayed the tribunal to amend his response to the petition to reflect his lead counsel, Chief Wole Olanipekun’s address and email which the petitioners had claimed was an omission to cause mischief.
Also on Tuesday, the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) through its lead counsel, Yunus Usman, SAN, also in four separate applications challenged the competence of the petition filed by Atiku and the PDP.
Usman told the court to strike out the petition because of the failure of the petitioners to join Prof. Yemi Osinbajo, the running mate to President Buhari at the election.
He said as co-winner of the election, Osinbajo was a necessary party and omitting his name in the petition is fatal.
Usman further prayed the tribunal to strike out the petition because it is the duty of INEC to defend Electoral process, particularly, where the petition has failed to comply with paragraph 18 (1) of the first schedule of the Electoral Act, 2010 as amended.
On its part, the All Progressives Congress (APC) through its lead counsel, Chief Lateef Fagbemi, SAN, in two motions, asked the court to strike out the petition on the grounds that the preliminary objection was not responded to by the petitioners.
Fagbemi, who had earlier withdrawn his first application filed on May 14, 2019, informed the court that the petitioners only replied and filed counter affidavit to the motion he had withdrawn. He therefore urged the tribunal to hold that his two other applications were unchallenged.
Responding, lead counsel to Atiku and the PDP, Dr. Levy Uzuokwu, SAN, orally applied to amend the heading of his response to the APC’s application that was struck out to apply to the two other APC’s applications.
He urged the tribunal to strike out APC’s objection to their petition.
Uzuokwu responding further to Fagbemi’s applications said: “I do not think that it is simple as my brother thought as we have joined issues on the application he sought to withdraw”.
Atiku and PDP’s lawyer also prayed the court to dismiss the three separate applications filed by Buhari for lacking in merit.
The counsel equally prayed the tribunal to strike out all INEC’S applications.
Meanwhile, the tribunal on Tuesday struck out two applications filed by INEC and APC after they were withdrawn by the two respondents.
The tribunal chairman has reserved ruling on all applications heard to a date to be communicated to parties.