23 May 2019

Nigeria: Tribunal Dismisses Suit Seeking to Stop Buhari's Inauguration

Photo: Vanguard
Abubakar Atiku, 2019 presidential candidate for PDP and President Muhammadu Buhari of the APC

The Presidential Election Petitions Tribunal has dismissed the suit seeking to stop the inauguration of President Muhammadu Buhari.

The suit was filed by Hope Democratic Party (HDP) and Ambrose Oworu, its presidential candidate.

In the lead judgment delivered by Joseph Ikyechi, the tribunal dismissed the application for lacking merit.

HDP and its presidential candidate in the suit sought an order from the tribunal to restrain the Acting Chief Justice of Nigeria, Tanko Muhammad, from administering the oath of office on Mr Buhari on May 29.

"A restraining order by this court is appropriate to preserve the subject matter of this petition and prevent the first respondent foisting a fiat and state of helplessness on the court and render the petition nugatory," the motion had read.

"The law is settled that once the question of the validity of election of any person is challenged as to whether he is validly elected or not, the person is not competent to take office or assume the seat of power until the matter is dealt with."

Respondents in the suit, which include Mr Buhari, the All Progressives Congress (APC), and the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), faulted the application and asked the tribunal to dismiss it for lacking merit.

Arguing the application, counsel representing Mr Owuru and the HDP backed their suit with Sections 1 (2), 6 (6), 139 and 239 of the 1999 Constitution as amended.

But Mr Buhari's counsel, Wole Olanipekun, INEC counsel, Ustaz Usman, and the counsel for APC, Akin Olujimi, all urged the tribunal to dismiss the application for being incompetent.

Meanwhile, following the decision of the president of the Court of Appeal, Zainab Bulkachuwa, to recuse herself from the election tribunal, lawyers hope the panel would be reconstituted on time to continue the hearing on the main petitions.

Other petitions before the tribunal include those of Peoples Democratic Party and its candidate, Atiku Abubakar, Geff Ojinka of the Coalition for Change (CC) and Aminchi Habu of the Peoples Democratic Movement (PDM).

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