THE dispute over the last presidential election, won by President Muhammadu Buhari of the All Progressives Congress (APC), on March 18, will come to a close today(Wednesday) before the Presidential Election Petition Court (PEPC).
The main opposition party – the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and its candidate in the election, Atiku Abubakar had filed the petition, in which they among others, queried Buhari’s qualification, victory at the election and sought to be declared winners. In the alternative, they prayed the court to void the election.
The PEPC, sitting at the Court of Appeal, Abuja, on August 21, and adjourned for judgment after entertaining final submissions from lawyers to parties.
The Presiding Justice of the PEPC, Justice Mohammed Garba, announced, while adjourning proceedings on August 21, that parties would be notified when the court decides of a date for judgment.
Parties to the petition have, since then, waited with bated breath for the judgment, with the petitioners reportedly writing the court last week in relation to the pending judgment.
At about 12noon on Tuesday, information filtered in from the court that the much awaited judgment has been scheduled for today.
The spokesperson for the Court of Appeal, Mrs. Sa’adatu Kachalla confirmed the development in a brief message on Tuesday.
Mrs. Kachalla said: “Please be informed that notice has been given for judgment to be delivered tomorrow, September 11, 2019 at 9am in the presidential election petition.
Four petitions were originally filed against the election, including the one by Atiku and the PDP, marked: CA/PEPC/002/2019, filed on Marc 18, 2019.
There was the one filed by Hope Democratic Party (HDP) and Ambrose Owuru, who claimed to be the party’s presidential candidate. The petition, marked: CA/PEPC/001/2019 was filed on March 7 this year, before that of the PDP and Atiku, marked: CA/PEPC/002/2019.
The third, marked: CA/PEPC/003/2019 was filed by the Coalition for Change (C4C) and Geff Ojinika, who claimed to be the party’s presidential candidate.
The fourth petition, marked: CA/PEPC/004/2019, was filed on March 19 this year by the People’s Democratic Movement (PDM) and Pastor Aminchi Habu, listed as the party’s presidential candidate.
Two petitioners, te C4C and PDM, at a point, withdrew their petitions, following which the court dismissed them.
The court, in a judgment on August 22, 2019 dismissed the petition by the HDP on the grounds that it was without merit, the petitioners having been unable to establish their claims.
While making their final submissions on August 21 this year in the petition by Atiku and the PDP, Buhari, the APC and the Independent National electoral Commission (INEC) – who are respondents to the petition, argued that the petitioners failed to disprove the claim that Atiku is not a Nigerian by birth and as such was not qualified to contest the election.
Buhari, APC and INEC described the petition by Atiku and the PDP, challenging the outcome of the election as worthless and time wasting. They noted that the petitioner, in prosecution the petition, starved it of necessary evidence and urged the court to dismiss the it with substantial cost.
They noted that while the petitioners made head wild allegations in their petition, they provided no single evidence in support of their claims and therefore, failed to meet the required standard of proof in relation to all the allegations.
At the August 21 proceedings, Wole Olanipekun (SAN) led Alex Izinyon (SAN) and other lawyers for Buhari; Yunus Usman (SAN) led INEC’s team; Lateef Fagbemi (SAN) led the team of the APC, while Livy Uzoukwu (SAN) led the petitioners’ team, which included Mike Ozekhome (SAN).