The Presidential Election Petition Court (PEPC) has dismissed the petition by the Peoples Democratic Movement (PDM), challenging the outcome of the last presidential election won by President Muhammadu Buhari of the All Progressives Congress (APC).
The PDM and its candidate, Amichi Habu had, in the petition, asked the court to void the election on the ground that the party’s logo was excluded by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) from the ballot papers.
When the petition was called on Wednesday, petitioners’ lawyer, Aliyu Lemu said he has been instructed by his clients to apply to withdraw the petition, which had INEC, Buhari and the APC as respondents.
Lawyers to the respondents – Yunus Usman (SAN) for INEC, Yusuf Ali (SAN) for Buhari and Funke Adekoya (SAN for the APC – did not object when Lemu moved his application for withdrawal.
In the application brought under Paragraphs 29 and 47(1) and (20 of the First Schedule to the to the Electoral Act 2010, the petitioners prayed for the court’s leave “bring and argue this application outside the pre-hearing session; and leave to withdraw petition No: CA/PEPC/04/2019 outside of the pre-hearing session.”
Lemu said his clients decided to withdraw the petition having found an alternative way of addressing the complaints they raised in their petition.
In a ruling, the Chairman of the court’s five-man panel, Justice Mohammed Garba said I view of the submissions of the counsel for the petitioners, as well as the learned senior counsel for the respective respondents, “we find it expedient to grant this application as prayed. It is granted. And leave is granted to the petitioners to withdraw this petition from the court.”
Justice Garba added that the petition, having been withdrawn by the petitioners, the proper order to be made was that of dismissal. He proceeded to dismiss the petition, a decision the other four members of the court’s panel agreed with.
Habu explained, in a supporting affidavit, that he agreed with his party to have the petition withdrawn because “we have found other alternative ways of seeking redress for the complaints alleged in our petition.
“It will be best to withdraw our Petition in the circumstance to decongest the docket of this honourable court and save precious judicial time and to prevent the Respondents from any unnecessary expense of defending this petition.
“Withdrawing this petition is an extreme circumstance otherwise this honourable court will be put to the task of hearing a petition which the petitioners no longer wish to pursue.
“It will be in the interest of justice for this honourable court to grant the Petitioners leave to bring and argue this application outside the pre-hearing session and to also withdraw this petition to save the precious time of this court and to prevent the Respondents from incurring unnecessary expense to defend this petition.
“The grant of this application will not prejudice the respondents in any way.”
In his verifying affidavit, the PDM’s National Secretary, Abubakar Abdullahi corroborated what Habu said in the supporting affidavit, particularly as it relates to the petitioners’ decision to explore alternative means of seeking redress.
With the dismissal of the petition by the PDM and Habu, the court is now left with two petitions to deal with, the Coalition for Change(C4C) and its presidential candidate, Geff Ojinika, having earlier withdrawn the petition the marked: CA/PEPC/003/2019.
The remaining petitions are those by the Hope Democratic Party (HDP) and its presidential candidate, Ambrose Owuru (marked: CA/PEPC/001/2019) and the one by the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and its candidate, Atiku Abubakar (marked: CA/PEPC/002/2019).
With regard to the petition by the HPD and Owuru, the petitioners concluded its case on Monday, following which the respondents – Buhari, APC and INEC elected not to call witnesses, but to file final written addresses.
The court adjourned till August 5, 2019 for parties to adopt their final written addresses.
On the petition by the PDP and Atiku, the petitioners closed their case on July 19, 2019, after calling 62 witnesses and tendering loads of documents, following which the court adjourned till July 29 for the three respondents to commence their cases, beginning with INEC.