Nigeria’s foremost Constitutional Lawyer, Professor Ben Nwabueze, SAN, appeared at the Presidential Election Petition Tribunal, for the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, and its Presidential Candidate, Atiku Abubakar, today.
Professor Nwabueze’s appearance on Thursday, coincided with the tendering of result sheets used in the February 23, Presidential election by the PDP, at the Tribunal.
After reaching for the mic, Prof. Nwabueze requested the Panel to allow him to make his address while seated. The Chairman of the Panel, Justice Mohammed Garba, accepted his request.
The tendering of the documents and forms used in the election, followed the end of the pre-hearing session, and beginning of the main hearing of the petition, today.
The five-member Panel of Justices, on Wednesday, also adopted the agreement of parties for Atiku and the PDP, to make their case within 10 days, while the Defendants will make theirs within 6 days. Thus, the Petitioners are also expected to call witnesses in week 2, of the main hearing.
On Wednesday, the Tribunal dismissed an application by Atiku and the PDP, seeking to set aside the proceedings of June 11, in which it failed to reply to the motion of the APC, filed on May 15.
Atiku and the PDP, had filed a counter-affidavit to the APC motion, dated May 14, 2019, which its Lawyer, Lateef Fagbemi, SAN, withdrew and filed a similar motion of May 15, 2019, seeking to strike out some States, such as Borno, Yobe, Niger, Katsina, Bauchi, Jigawa, Kaduna, Kanu, Gombe, and Kebbi, listed among the locations where electoral malpractices occurred.
The APC also argued that Atiku and the PDP’s petition is incompetent and contains errors, adding that, the individuals and institutions such as Vice President, Yemi Osinbajo, Nigerian Army, and Nigeria Police, who were alleged to have committed electoral offences, were not joined in the petition.
Atiku and the PDP, through their Lead Counsel, Levy Uzoukwu, however, did not file a counter-affidavit to the fresh motion within the 7 days provided by the law.
They contended that the failure of the Tribunal to dismiss the motion which was withdrawn without prior notice, was a violation of the right to fair hearing.
In a lead ruling by the Chairman of the Panel, Justice Mohammed Garba held that the proceeding of June 11, was conducted within the requisite jurisdiction of the Tribunal, in line with the Nigerian Constitution, 1999, as amended, and does not constitute a denial of fair hearing to the PDP.
The Panel, however, did not grant Atiku and the PDP alternative relief for the extension of time to file a counter-affidavit to the pending motion of May 15, because the matter is no longer a live issue before the Tribunal, having been appealed against at the Supreme Court.