President Muhammadu Buhari has officially filed his response to the petition by the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and its presidential candidate in the February 23 election, Atiku Abubakar.
According to Daily Trust, President Buhari said the petitions by the PDP and Atiku cannot be heard at the Presidential Election Petitions Tribunal.
The president told the tribunal that the grounds for Atiku’s petition which claimed that he was not validly elected in the election and that he was not qualified to contest the election are “conjunctive, thus, rendering them incompetent.”
Buhari’s response, with a preliminary objection to the hearing of the petition, was brought by his lead counsel, Wole Olanipekun (SAN), leading 15 other Senior Advocates of Nigeria on Wednesday, April 17.
Recall that President Buhari, according to INEC’s official declaration, got 15, 191, 847 votes against 11, 262,978 votes by Atiku in the election.
Buhari, who contested under the platform of the All Progressives Congress (APC), argued that by virtue of Section 31(5) and (6) of the Electoral Act, 2010 (as amended), “it is the Federal High Court or a State High Court that has jurisdiction to adjudicate on the grounds/complaints contained therein.”
Buhari argued that Atiku’s claim that he was not qualified to contest the election and that he submitted to INEC an affidavit containing false information of a fundamental nature in aid of his qualification for the election “are liable to be struck out in limine.”
He said the claims by Atiku in paragraph 15 and 409 of his petition are defective and thus, “making the entire reliefs sought in 409(a), (b), (c),(d) and (e) mutually exclusive and not grantable.
Atiku had in paragraphs 15 and 409 of his petition dated March 18, 2019 asked the tribunal to declare him duly and validly elected having polled the highest lawful votes cast at the election.
While contending that Buhari was not qualified to contest the election, he asked the court to direct INEC to issue him a certificate of return.
Alternatively, Atiku asks the tribunal to nullify the February 23 presidential election and order a fresh election.
Meanwhile, the president has reportedly indicated his intention to subpoena 254 witnesses for the hearing of the petition if the tribunal refuses his preliminary objection.