WATCH LIVE UPDATES: Tribunal Rules On Atiku’s Petition Challenging Buhari’s Victory

The panel of the tribunal arrived for the final time in this petition. The five-man panel include the Chairman, Justice Mohammed Garba. Others include Justice Peter Olabisi-Ige, Justice Abdul Aboki, Justice Joseph Ikyegh and Justice Samuel Oseji. The panel is led by Justice Mohammed Garba. 9:36 am The parties take appearances after which the chairman of the tribunal will deliver the ruling. 09:49 am The tribunal at the pre-trial hearing reserved rulings in some preliminary objections to today’s judgment. The Chairman then announced that those rulings will be delivered before the final judgment in the petition. 10:01 am The first Preliminary Objections being heard is the one filed by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) asking the tribunal to dismiss the petition of the PDP and Atiku for not joining the vice-president who participated in the election as a necessary party. The First Preliminary Objection The first Preliminary Objections (PO) was filed by INEC asking the court to dismiss the petition for failure to join the vice president who is a party to the election on four grounds as he is an indispensable party in the petition. The PO said failure to join the vice-president robbed the court the powers to hear the petition as such it should be dismissed. It adds that noncompliance with the electoral act is not a mere rule but goes to the foundation of the case. In the present petition, the electoral act was complied with. The vice president, it noted, is not a necessary party in line with section 178 and is bound by the decision given to the necessary Party which in this case are the 2nd respondent (the president ) and the third respondent (the Apc). 10:07am Justice Garba held that not joining the vice president is not fatal to the Petition. He said the objection is not correct in law, it lacks merit and is hereby dismissed. The dismissal is a unanimous decision of the panel. Summary: The tribunal has dismissed a preliminary objection filed by INEC seeking a dismissal of the petition of the PDP and its presidential candidate Atiku Abubakar for failure to join the vice-president as a party in the suit having participated in the election that is the subject of the appeal. 10:11 am The next Preliminary Objection (PO) to be decided was also filed by the first respondent INEC. The PO is seeking an order striking out the petitioners list of documents for being incompetent. 10:23 am The PO also sought for an order declaring that the lead counsel Mister Levi Uzoukwu who signed the petition is not a legal practitioner enrolled in roll or register of legal petitioners in Nigeria. 11: 22 am Tribunal takes the preliminary objections of the second respondent who is President Muhammadu Buhari. The PO is seeking an order of the tribunal to strike out the petitioners petition for lacking in merit. 11:44 am The tribunal strikes out Osita Chidoka’s testimony. Mr Chidoka is the star witness for the petitioner, Atiku Abubakar. 11:46 am The tribunal also dismissed the contention by President Muhammadu Buhari that Atiku Abubakar did not qualify to file the petition as such it should be dismissed. The court held that having participated in the election Atiku is competence to file a petition. 11:49am The tribunal also struck out the Preliminary Objection of President Buhari seeking to expunge the paragraph of the petition which questioned the qualifications of the president to contest the election. The tribunal held that in line with section 138 subsection 1(a) of the 1999 constitution, the qualification of any person who participates in an election can be questioned. 12:18 am The tribunal is now hearing the preliminary objection of the APC which is the third and last respondent in the petition. 12: 58 am The tribunal goes on a short break. 01:50 pm Tribunal resumes from break. 01:52 pm Issues were raised by the petitioners in support of the petition. The issues are: Whether the second respondent was at the time of the election qualified at the time to participate. Whether he supplied false information to participate in the said election. Whether through evidence laid it was established that he was duly elected. Whether the election was invalid through corrupt practices. Whether it was invalid by substantial non-compliance to the electoral act and guidelines.
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