The Hope Democratic Party (HDP) on Monday prayed the Presidential Election Petitions Tribunal to set aside the presidential election of Feb. 23 on the grounds that INEC did not follow conditions in the Electoral Act before postponing the poll earlier scheduled for Feb. 16.
The party is challenging the victory of President Muhammadu Buhari in the Feb. 23 election.
Adopting the HDP’s final address, its lead counsel Mr Chukwunoyerem Njoku, informed the Tribunal that because INEC did not follow the conditions before postponing the election unconstitutionally, a referendum was conducted in line with the law and the presidential candidate of the HDP, Mr Ambrose Oworu, emerged winner of the referendum with over 50 million votes.
He submitted that Nigerian citizens participated in the Feb. 16 referendum as required by law and urged the Tribunal to nullify the declaration of President Muhammadu Buhari by INEC as president and in his place, restore Owuru as the authentic winner.
However, the President represented by Mr Wole Olanipekun, SAN, urged the Tribunal to dismiss the petition on the grounds that it is frivolous, baseless and lacking in merit.
Olanipekun told the Tribunal that the petitioners did not in any way adduce evidence on how the referendum was conducted and who conducted it in line with the provisions of the law.
He also said he had studied carefully the final address of the HDP and its presidential candidate and there was nowhere they made any case against President Buhari.
Also adopting its final address, INEC through its lead counsel, Mr Yinus Usman, urged the Tribunal to dismiss the petition with substantial cost to serve as a deterrent to those who may wish to file frivolous and baseless petitions in the 2023 elections.
Usman argued that the petition lacked merit because the electoral body conducted an election and not a referendum and that the claims of the two petitioners were strange to the electoral umpire.
He, therefore, urged the Tribunal to uphold the declaration of President Muhammadu Buhari as the winner of the Feb. 23 lawful presidential election.
After listening to all the arguments, the Tribunal reserved judgment.
edited by Sadiya Hamza