HDP moves to present two witnesses against Buhari’s re-election

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The Hope Democratic Party (PDP) and its presidential candidate in the February 23 election, Chief Ambrose Oworu, on Tuesday told the Presidential Election Petition Tribunal that they would call only two witnesses to prove their petition against the re-election of President Muhammadu Buhari.

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Counsel to Owuru and the HDP, Chukwu Njoku, stated this shortly after it adopted the petitioners pre-hearing information sheet filed on May 5, 2019.

Njoku further told the five member presidential panel headed by Justice Mohammed Garba that, “Subject to the convenience of the court they would be needing two days to establish their petition against the election of Buhari.

Counsel to President Buhari (1st respondent), Chief Alex Izinyon SAN, while also adopting his client’s pre-hearing information sheet filed on May 7, asked the tribunal for 7 days to call two witnesses and unspecified number of subpoenaed witnesses.

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However, the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), through its lead counsel, Yunus Usman SAN, asked for two days to call its only witness, just as counsel to the All Progressives Congress (APC), Chief Akin Olujimi told the tribunal that seven days would be sufficient for them to call just two alongside some other subpoenaed witnesses against the HDP’s petition.

Meanwhile, the tribunal had fixed July 10 for hearing in a motion filed by the petitioners seeking to amend the statement of oath of the original witnesses to be called in support of the petition.

Justice Garba set the motion for hearing on the above date after Buhari, INEC and APC requested for time to respond to the motion, which they all said was served on them in court this morning.

Subsequently, Justice Garba ordered the respondents to file their responses within three days and the petitioners to reply on point of law within two days if they so desire.

Similarly, Justice Garba, will on the same July 10 deliver the tribunal’s ruling in INEC’s motion seeking the dismissal of the HDP’s petition for allegedly being incompetent and abuse of court process.

Owuru and the HDP in their petition dated March 7 and marked: PEPT/001/2019 are seeking the nullification of President Muhammadu Buhari’s victory at the poll on grounds of alleged Irregularities and violation of the 1999 Constitution as well as the Electoral Act.

According to them, the February 23 presidential election which produced Buhari for a second term in office was unlawful, illegal, unconstitutional and unknown to law and as such should be invalidated by the tribunal.

The petitioners had in one of their motions argued that the postponement of the election from February 16 to 23 had no backing of any law as no cogent and verifiable reason required by law were advanced for the postponement.

They insisted that the February 23 poll was never validly held by INEC and cannot produce any valid result or returns recognizable by law.

Citing several authorities to buttress their averment, the petitioners further submitted that since INEC breached the provisions of the Electoral Act especially section 26 to conduct the February 23 poll, the purported election cannot stand in the eyes of the law.

They therefore prayed for an order compelling INEC to produce at the tribunal notice of election, original time-table for February 16, the press statement of February 16 as well as minutes of meeting where the decision to postpone the February 16, presidential was held.

Another reason for their request for the nullification of the February 23, presidential poll was that despite their validly nominated candidates for the 2019 general elections, they were unlawfully excluded by INEC who delisted their names and party logo from the ballot papers.

Another grouse of the petitioners was that the electoral body placed a false version of their registered party logo on the ballot papers for elections and thereby cost them the chances of realizing their political ambition in the 2019 general elections.