Litigants seeking to invalidate the re-election of President Muhammadu Buhari will today begin to build their case as the Presidential Election Petition Tribunal sitting in Abuja commences pre-hearing session on four petitions.
The petitioners are separately challenging the declaration of President Buhari as the legitimate winner of the February 23 presidential election. The Tribunal has already issued pre-hearing notice on all the parties.
One of the lead counsels in the petition said President Muhammadu Buhari and his closest rival, Atiku Abubakar may likely show up in today’s opening session.
Basically, the session affords the Tribunal the opportunity to meet the parties with a view to setting up modalities to be adopted in the actual hearing of substantive issues in dispute.
The first case is the petition marked CA/PEPC/002/2019, which was entered against Buhari by the Peoples Democratic Party and its candidate, Atiku on March 18; the second petition marked CA/ PEPC/001/2019 was filed by the presidential candidate of Hope Democratic Party, Chief Ambrose Owuru who secured a total of 1,663 in the election. The third petition, CA/PEPC/004/2019, was lodged by the presidential candidate of the Peoples Democratic Movement, PDM, Pastor Aminchi Habu, who is seeking a fresh election because his party’s logo was not included in the ballot paper.
The last petition, suit No CA/PEPC/003/2019 was filed by the Coalition For Change and its presidential candidate, Geff Chizee Ojinka, who are contending that Buhari’s re-election was vitiated by substantial non-compliance with mandatory statutory provisions.
The petitioners maintained that the irregularity substantially affected the election, “such that the 1st respondent was not entitled to be returned as winner of the presidential election”.
Remarkably, unlike in all the other petitions where only Buhari, APC and INEC were cited as respondents, the C4C, which garnered a total of 2,391 votes at the presidential poll, cited the Vice President, Prof. Yemi Osinbajo, as the 2nd Respondent in its case.
The Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, had on February 27, declared that Buhari scored 15,191,847 votes to defeat his closest rival, Alhaji Atiku Abubakar of the opposition PDP, who polled 11,262,978 votes.