The Presidential Election Petition Tribunal sitting has dismissed the petition the Hope Democratic Party (HDP) and its candidate, Chief Ambrose Owuru, challenging the outcome of the February 23 presidential election which returned President Muhammadu Buhari elected for the second time.
The party was asking the tribunal to nullify the election in the petition marked CA/PEPC/001/2019, contending that the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) failed to follow condition precedents stipulated in the Electoral Act, when it unduly postponed the presidential election that was originally fixed for February 16.
The party also claimed that its candidate, Owuru, secured over 50million votes in a referendum that was conducted by both electorates and observer networks that were dissatisfied with the unilateral postponement of the presidential election by INEC.
The party, therefore, urged the tribunal to uphold the outcome of the referendum “the people” conducted on February 16, and invalidate the “substituted election” and “undue return” of President Buhari.
However, in a unanimous judgement, the Justice Mohammed Garba-led five-member panel tribunal dismissed the petition as an abuse of the Court.
The tribunal, in line with paragraph 12(5) of the First Schedule to the Constitution and section 285(8) of the Constitution, delivered nine pending rulings in the matter.
In three of the rulings on motions that were filed by the respondents- President Buhari, INEC and the All Progressives Congress (APC) the tribunal, struck out the petition and upheld the preliminary objection President Buhari filed to challenge the competence of the petition which he described as “highly vexatious, nebulous, generic, hypothetical and academic”.
The tribunal held that issues the petitioners raised before it were pre-election matters that it lacked the jurisdiction to entertain.
It also ruled that none of the grounds of the petition fell under section 138(1) of the Electoral Act that involves the conduct of an election, noting that the case was “based merely on the supposed referendum”.