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Owuru, HDP ask tribunal to stop president’s May 29 inauguration

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[FILES] Buhari

Hope Democratic Party (HDP) and its candidate, Chief Albert Owuru, yesterday asked the Presidential Election Petition Tribunal to stop the inauguration of President Muhammadu Buhari on May 29, 2019 pending the determination of complaints arising from the February 23 polls.

They also want the Acting Chief Justice of Nigeria (CJN), Tanko Mohammad, restrained from administering oath of office and allegiance on the president on that day.

The party, in its motion on notice, stated that the request was predicated on the need to preserve its case and forestall any presidential acts that could render its petition nugatory.

The petitioners submitted that once the validity of an election or a person is under contention, it behooves affected litigants to halt oath taking and assumption of office.

They therefore prayed the panel for an order stopping the president from presenting himself for inauguration on May 29 or any other date until all petitions challenging his victory have been dispensed with.

The duo are challenging the validity of the election on grounds of alleged non-compliance with extant laws.

They further argued that a petition dated March 7, 2019, had been dully served on Buhari, the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) and the All Progressives Congress (APC) questioning the return of the nation’s first citizen as winner of the February 23 exercise, adding that the parties had exchanged pleadings.

The tribunal had last Wednesday at its inaugural sitting adjourned till yesterday for a pre-hearing of the petitioners’ case.

However, when the matter was called, counsel to the petitioners, Oliver Eya, sought to move the application but the respondents claimed non-service.

Buhari’s counsel, Wole Olanipekun (SAN), that of INEC, Yunus Ustaz (SAN) and APC’s, Lateef Fagbemi (SAN), told the panel that they needed time to study the application.

Meanwhile, Olanipekun has filed a motion praying the tribunal to dismiss the petition, on the premise that it was incompetent in law.

Chairman of the tribunal, Justice Zainab Bulkachuwa, after entertaining their arguments, fixed May 22 for hearing of the motion.

Besides, the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) has condemned alleged plot by Buhari and his party to move “major events of the planned presidential inauguration from May 29 to June 12, the Democracy Day, to confer any form of legitimacy to the outcome of the rigged 2019 polls.”

In a statement by its National Publicity Secretary, Kola Ologbondiyan, the main opposition party asserted that inviting world leaders to the event “cannot confer international recognition on a stolen mandate.”

Also yesterday, Senate President, Bukola Saraki, began smooth transition to the Ninth National Assembly.

Ahead of the valedictory session holding in the first week of June, Saraki therefore directed his aides to prepare their handover notes.

In a letter addressed to his over 100 aides through his Chief of Staff, Dr. Hakeem Baba-Ahmed, he said the comprehensive handover documents detailing records of individual mandates and assignments would help the leadership of the Ninth Senate.


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