The Presidential Election Petition Tribunal sitting in Abuja, on Wednesday, ordered substituted service of the petition challenging the outcome of the February 23 presidential election, on President Muhammadu Buhari.
The tribunal ordered that copies of all the legal processes should be served on Buhari through any senior officer at the national headquarters of his party, the All Progressives Congress, APC, in Abuja.
The order followed an ex-parte application that was filed by the opposition Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, and its presidential candidate, Atiku Abubakar. A three-man panel of Justices of the Court of Appeal led by Justice Abdul Aboki, granted the ex-parte motion the petitioners moved through their lawyers, Mr. Chris Uche, SAN.
The petitioners are in the petition marked CA/PEPC/002/2019, praying the tribunal to invalidate the declaration of President Buhari as winner of the presidential contest. Aside INEC, President Buhari and the APC were cited as Respondents in the petition.
Aside INEC, President Buhari and the APC were cited as Respondents in the petition. The tribunal had earlier ordered the electoral body to grant both the petitioners and the 2nd and 3rd Respondents (Buhari and the APC), access to all the electoral materials that were deployed for the February 23 presidential poll, apart from the Smart Card Reader Machines. While Atiku and PDP maintained that they would need copies of the materials to sustain their allegation that the election was rigged, on the other hand, Buhari and the APC said they would also need the materials to prove that they legitimately won the presidential election. It will be recalled that the electoral body had on February 27, declared that Buhari won the presidential contest with 15,191,847 votes to defeat his closest rivalry, Atiku, who it said polled a total of 11,262,978 votes.
However, in their joint petition, Atiku and his party, insisted that date they secured from INEC’s server, revealed that they defeated President Buhari with over 1.6million votes. The petitioners alleged that INEC had at various stages of the presidential election, unlawful allocated votes to President Buhari, saying they would adduce oral and documentary evidence to show that result of the election as announced by the electoral body, did not represent the lawful valid votes cast.
Atiku alleged that in some states, INEC, deducted lawful votes that accrued to him, in its bid to ensure that Buhari was returned back to office. The petitioners said they would call evidence of statisticians, forensic examiners and finger-print experts at the hearing of the petition to establish that the scores credited to Buhari were not the product of actual votes validly cast at the polling units.
“The Petitioners plead and shall rely on electronic video recordings, newspaper reports, photographs and photographic images of several infractions of the electoral process by the Respondents”, they added. More so, in one of the five grounds of the petition, Atiku and the PDP maintained that Buhari was not qualified to run for the office of the President, contending that he does not possess the constitutional minimum qualification of a school certificate.
The petitioners serialised results that were recorded from each state of the federation in order to prove that the alleged fraudulent allocation of votes to Buhari and the APC, took place at the polling units, the ward collating centres, local government collating centres and the State collating centres.