From Yemi Oyeyemi, Abuja
The presidential election petition tribunal has adjourned the pre-hearing session in the petition filed by candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Atiku Abubakar, and his party, PDP to July one.
Chairman of the five member panel, Justice Mohammed Lawal Garba fixed the date, following request by Atiku’s lawyer, Chief Chris Uche SAN, for time to enable the petitioners reply on point of law to APC’s objection to their application asking the tribunal to stop its ruling in the APC motion seeking to void their petition.
Atiku and the PDP, it was gathered, had filed a fresh motion asking the Presidential Election Petition Tribunal to halt the delivery of its ruling in a motion on notice filed by the APC to enable them filed their response.
The APC had, in the motion on notice, filed by its lead counsel, Prince Lateef Fagbemi SAN on May 15, prayed the tribunal to void and strike out Atiku’s petition on various grounds of alleged Irregularities and Non-Compliance with the legal practitioners Act.
When the motion was argued by Fagbemi, Atiku and PDP did not file counter affidavit, prompting the tribunal to reserve ruling in the APC’s motion.
However, at Wednesday’s proceedings, lead counsel to the petitioners, Chief Chris Uche SAN, informed the tribunal that the petitioners have just received the response of the APC to their request asking the tribunal to stop delivery of ruling in the motion and would need time to respond on point of law.
The tribunal Chairman, Justice Mohammed Garba, after listening to short argument by parties adjourned further hearing till July 1.
The APC had on June 11, through Fagbemi SAN prayed the tribunal to strike out Atiku’s petition and in the alternative strike out several paragraphs that were not supported by facts and laws.
Among others, Fagbemi prayed the tribunal to remove 10 states in the list of states where Atiku alleged electoral malpractices took place in the February 23 presidential election.
The grouse of APC were that the petitioners failed to disclose the specific polling units where the alleged infraction took place thereby making their claims imprecise, nebulous and vague.
Fagbemi also applied for order of the tribunal to strike out paragraphs where allegations of act of thuggery, arrest, intimidation and conversion were made against Vice President Yemi Osinbajo, the Nigerian Army, the Nigerian Police and several other individuals who were not joined as defendants in their petition.
APC also applied that the claim by Atiku and the PDP that President Buhari was not educational qualified to stand for the presidential election be expunged from their petition because it is a pre-election matter which the tribunal has no jurisdiction to adjudicate upon.
Besides, APC also asked the tribunal to strike out the petition for failure to comply with mandatory provisions of paragraphs 4 and 7 of the first schedule to the Electoral Act 2010 and section 134 of the 1999 Constitution.
The APC similarly faulted the petition for being incompetent and in gross violation of Sections 2 and 24 of the Legal Practitioners Act and therefore urged that the petition be struck out together with the list of documents and list of witnesses to be relied upon by the petitioners.