The case against the re-election of President Muhammadu Buhari, began in Abuja, on Wednesday.
The case was filed by Buhari’s main challenger in the election, Atiku Abubakar, of the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP.
The Presidential Election Petition Tribunal, is headed by the President of the Court of Appeal, Justice Zainab Bulkachuwa.
Atiku and his party, the PDP, in their petition, are seeking the nullification of Buhari’s victory at the February 23, Presidential poll, over allegations of widespread rigging, violation of the Electoral Act, suppression of voters, violence, among other electoral malpractices.
There are also four other petitions before the Tribunal, filed by Ambrose Owuru of the Hope Democratic Party, HDP; Geff Chizee Ojinka of the Coalition for Change, CC; and Aminchi Habu of the Peoples Democratic Movement, PDM, all challenging Buhari’s re-election.
However, Buhari’s Lead Counsel, Wole Olanipekun, SAN, asked the Tribunal to first determine his preliminary objection, seeking to dismiss the petition by the PDP and its Candidate, at the pre-hearing stage.
“We filed our reply on 16th April, 2019, and we also filed our motion, including preliminary objections. We argued that the preliminary objection be set down for hearing during the pre-trial”, he said.
Buhari in the objection, asked the Tribunal to dismiss Atiku’s claim that he lacked the qualification to be President, on the grounds that by virtue of section 31 (5) and (6) of the Electoral Act, 2010 (as amended), “it is the Federal High Court or of a State, that has jurisdiction to adjudicate on the grounds/complaints contained therein.”
The inaugural sitting was attended by Peter Obi, Atiku’s running mate.
Meanwhile, the five-member Panel has fixed May 14, for pre-hearing on the petition by HDP Candidate, and May 15 and 16, for the petition by the PDP.