The Presidential candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in the February 23 election, Atiku Abubakar, and his party, yesterday, commenced legal process challenging the victory of President Muhammadu Buhari and the All Progressives Congress (APC) at the polls.
The applicants had, yesterday, approached the Presidential Election Petition Tribunal sitting at the premises of the Court of Appeal, Abuja Division with a motion ex-parte seeking an order compelling the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to release voters’ register and other relevant materials to them.
INEC had declared President Buhari winner of the poll, having scored a total of 15,191,847 votes as against Atiku’s 11,262,978 votes.
Dissatisfied with the conduct and outcome of the election, Atiku and his party vowed to approach the election petition tribunal to ventilate their grievances, as well as reclaim their alleged stolen mandate.
In the ex-parte motion dated March 4 and filed on March 5 through their counsel, Chris Uche (SAN), the applicants – Atiku and PDP – are praying for an order compelling INEC to allow them inspect the voters’ register and other vital documents used in the conduct of the election.
Cited as respondents are INEC, President Buhari and the APC.
The application is praying the tribunal to compel the electoral body to allow their agents to scan and make photocopies of vital documents used in the last presidential election for the purpose of proving their case at the tribunal.
The applicants submitted that their request precedes their filing of a petition to challenge the February 23 Presidential election, which they claimed that INEC robbed them of their victory.
The application is supported with a 12-paragraph affidavit deposed to by one Col. Austin Akobundu (rtd.), Director of Contact and Mobilisation for the Atiku Abubakar Presidential Campaign Council.
Both Atiku and the PDP are claiming that they won the presidential election, but were short-changed by INEC during the collation and announcement of the results.
No date has been fixed for the hearing of the application.
In another development, the Federal High Court sitting in Abuja was yesterday asked to cancel the participation of President Buhari and Atiku in the February 23 Presidential election over deployment of excessive funds during campaigns, as it violates a section of the Electoral Act.
The court had consequently ordered service of court process on Buhari and Atiku through substituted service.
The two presidential candidates are to be served through the legal departments of their respective parties – APC and PDP.
In the suit seeking the cancellation of their participation in the poll, the plaintiff, Abdulahi Bello, who also contested as a presidential candidate under the National Rescue Movement (NRM), is praying the court to invoke Section 91(2) of the Electoral Act, 2010 to nullify the participation of Buhari and Atiku in the poll for allegedly violating the electoral laws.
Specifically, the plaintiff, through his counsel, Ezekiel Vem Ofou, is praying the court to set aside the participation of Buhari and Atiku on the ground that they spent more than N1 billion each as campaign expenses.
The plaintiff claimed that by spending more than N1 billion each, Buhari and Atiku violated the electoral law and, therefore, liable to be removed as contestants in the election.
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