One of four petitions challenging the victory of President Muhammadu Buhari during the February 23, 2019 presidential election has been withdrawn. The petitioner, Coalition for Change, (C4C) requested withdrawal of the case through its lawyer, Obed Agwu, at the resumed hearing before the presidential election tribunal on Monday. The withdrawal was not opposed by lawyers of President Buhari, the All Progressives Congress and the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC). Justice Mohammed Garba-led panel of the tribunal subsequently dismissed the petition.
The dismissal of the petition means there are only three petitions including that of the opposition People’s Democratic Party (PDP) and its presidential candidate Atiku Abubakar against Buhari’s victory at the poll. Buhari was declared the winner of the presidential election February 27 and was inaugurated for a second tenure as Nigeria president at the Eagle Square, Abuja on May 29.
Abubakar, a former ally of President Buhari, led a motley pack of challengers, most of whom posed no serious obstacle to Buhari’s re-election. INEC chairman Prof Mahmood Yakubu in February said Buhari polled 15, 191, 847 votes while Abubakar, a former Nigerian vice president between 1999 and 2007, got 11, 262, 978 votes. But Atiku claimed the election was ‘massively rigged’ to hand Buhari a second term in office.
Justice Mohammed Garba granted the oral application for the petitioners that transmitted the intention of his clients. Garba, who replaced the former Presiding Justice of the tribunal, Zainab Bulkachuwa held that the petition remained withdrawn in the absence of any objections.
Speaking to newsmen after the session, Agwu said the remote reason for his clients’ withdrawal was not unconnected with the new position of the National Executive Committee (NEC) of the party to contribute positively to the growth of Democracy.
The tribunal held another round of pre-hearing session where parties cross checked their processes preparatory to full commencement of proceedings. Garba, who was drafted from the Court of Appeal, Lagos Division insisted that the tribunal’s practice direction would be strictly followed. The judge, therefore, adjourned proceedings until June 11 for the hearing of some interlocutory motions.
Huhuonline.com recalls that three petitions against the re-election of Buhari are now before the panel of the Presidential Election and Petition Tribunal. They include the one filed by the People Democratic Party (PDP) and its presidential Candidate, Alhaji Atiku Abubakar marked CA/PEPC/002/2019. Another of the pending petition is the one filed by Hope Democratic Party (HDP) and its National Chairman and presidential candidate, Chief Ambrose Owuru. The other surviving petition is the one instituted by the Peoples Democratic Movement (PDM) and its presidential candidate, Pastor Aminchi Habu, marked CA/PEPC/004/2019.
The petitioners had claimed the presidential election was marred by widespread malpractices, thereby failing to comply with statutory provisions of the 1999 Constitution and the Electoral Act. The petitioners have all also joined the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), Vice President Yemi Osinbajo, and the APC as respondents. Meanwhile, Buhari and his party, are urging the tribunal to strike out all the petitions for being incompetent, malicious and without substance.