By Alex Enumah in Abuja
The Presidential Election Petition Tribunal on Thursday dismissed the petition of the Hope Democratic Party challenging the conduct of the February 23rd presidential election which returned President Muhammadu Buhari for a second term in office.
The presidential candidate of the HDP, Chief Ambrose Owuru, and his party, HDP, had on March 7 filed their petition seeking the nullification of President Buhari’s election on grounds that the conduct of the election on February 23 by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) was illegal, null and void.
They also asked the five man panel to declare them winner of the presidential poll having been elected president by 50 million Nigerians through a referendum conducted on February 16, 2019.
But delivering judgment Thursday, the tribunal in a unanimous decision held that the petition which was based on a purported referendum held on February 16, 2019 was outside the jurisdiction of the tribunal, whose duty is to determine whether a person was validly elected into office or not.
Chairman of the tribunal, Justice Mohammed Garba, who delivered the lead judgment said the petition which on the other hand challenged the postponment of the presidential election earlier scheduled for February 16 to February 23 was at best a pre-election matter and ought to be presented at a Federal or State High Court and not the tribunal.
Justice Garba further held that the suit was liable to be dismissed on grounds that being a pre-election matter it was also filed outside the 14 days provided by the law.
The tribunal further held that the petitioners failed to prove the allegations that they were excluded by the second respondents, Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC,) in the February 23 presidential election.