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Tribunal dismisses Atiku’s application to reopen petition



Don't drag Buhari to court, 36 presidential candidates beg Atiku

The Presidential election petition tribunal on Wednesday ruled against the application by presidential candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) Atiku Abubakar, to reopen argument on issues of certain objections and competence filed by the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) against his petition.

The APC candidate through its counsel, Prince Lateef Fagbemi (SAN), had filed a motion dated May 15, in which it prayed the presidential election petition tribunal to strike out the entire petition of the PDP candidate on the ground that the petition did not comply with relevant laws.

Fagbemi had on June 11, while moving the motion, prayed that several paragraphs in Atiku’s petition be expunged, claiming that they were vague allegations that couldn’t be supported by law.

Also, Fagbemi listed 10 states in Atiku’s petition where specific allegations known to law were made, but he also urged the tribunal to strike out the allegations against the Nigerian Army, Nigerian Police, Vice President Yemi Osinbajo who were alleged to have committed acts of violence on the Election Day in favour of president Buhari, but the petitioner failed to join them in the petition.

Read also: ASSAULT ON NURSING LADY: Atiku wants PDP to discipline erring Sen, as Falana writes IGP

Meanwhile, the PDP legal team led by Dr. Levi Uzoukwu, claimed that Atiku and PDP were denied the right to fair hearing and that the APC caused confusion when it filed two motions dated May 14 and May 15 on same issue but later withdrew that of May 14.

The team urged the tribunal to allow them to reopen argument and to grant them leave to file counter affidavit against the APC motion.

In the ruling delivered by the chairman, Justice Mohammed Lawal Garba, the tribunal agreed with Fagbemi that the mandatory seven days for Atiku to respond to APC motion on the competence of his petition had expired.

Justice Garba held that it was established beyond doubt that Atiku’s legal team was served with the APC’s motion on May 16, a day after it was filed and that it was a fatal mistake for Atiku’s legal team to have chosen and elected to file only notice of objection but refused to file counter affidavit as required by law to dispute the claims of the APC.

In his words, “We agreed that the court has the power to exercise discretion but in the instant case, the discretion has to be exercised judicially and judiciously and since the petitioner in this matter did not advance cogent and verifiable reasons for exercising discretion in his favour, we hereby refuse to do so”.

The tribunal also agreed with Fagbemi that court decisions or proceedings can only be set aside in the face of fraud, lack of fact, lack of jurisdiction and absence of substantial reason or where it is established that the court had been misled adding that in the instant matter, no evidence was advanced to justify the failure of the petitioner to comply with mandatory seven days within which to respond or to oppose the motion duly served on him on May 16.

“From the established fact, the petitioner failed to make out case for setting aside proceedings of June 11 and also failed even up till today to file counter affidavit”, therefore, the motion by the petitioner that his argument be reopened is bound to fail and is hereby dismissed for lacking in merit”.

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