* Concludes pre-hearing session
The Presidential Election Petitions Tribunal has dismissed the application by the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and its presidential candidate, Atiku Abubakar, to quash the proceedings of June 11 before the tribunal.
In a unanimous decision, the five-member panel of justices held that the application lacks merit and is “bound to fail.”
Atiku and PDP, through their lawyers led by Levy Uzoukwu (SAN), had asked the court to strike out the entire proceedings as it was not given fair hearing in a motion filed by the All Progressives Congress (APC).
The APC had in the motion dated May 14, 2019 sought to strike out the list of 10 states listed by the PDP to have witnessed large-scale irregularities and non-compliance with the Electoral Act, which the PDP challenged with a counter-affidavit.
APC had also asked the tribunal to remove the names of Vice President Yemi Osinbajo, Chief of Army Staff, Tukur Butatai and other security officers as being involved in electoral malpractices, and dismiss the petition.
But the APC, through its counsel, Lateef Fagbemi (SAN), withdrew the motion on May 15 and it was struck out, and it filed a fresh motion which the PDP however failed to file a counter-affidavit until June 11 when it was moved, which is out of time for a counter-affidavit.
Atiku and PDP appealed the decision to allow the new motion at the Supreme Court contending that the tribunal ought to have dismissed and not struck out the motion being withdrawn without prior notice.
In a lead ruling by the chairman of the panel, Justice Mohammed Garba held that the action does not amount to denial of fair hearing to the PDP.
He said Atiku and PDP’s alternative relief for the extension of time to file a counter-affidavit to pending motion before the tribunal cannot be granted as the matter is no longer a live issue, having been appealed against at the Supreme Court.
The tribunal ended pre-hearing session and approved the modalities and structures agreed by parties for the conduct of the main hearing of the petition.
The main hearing is fixed for Thursday July 4.