Atiku vs Buhari: Mohammed Garba replaces Bulkachuwa as Tribunal’s chairman

The Presidential Election Petition Tribunal under its new Chairman, Justice Mohammed Garba has dismissed the petition of the Coalition for Change (C4C) against the victory of President Muhammadu Buhari in the February 23 presidential election.

The decision followed an application for withdrawal of the petition filed by the petitioners on June 10.

Meanwhile, the tribunal has adjourned proceedings till Tuesday when it will hear six pending applications that were filed by the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, and its candidate, Alhaji Atiku Abubakar, bordering on the petition challenging President Buhari’s re-election.

Justice Garba was drafted from the Lagos Division of the Court of Appeal to take the place of the president of the Court of Appeal, Justice Zainab Bulkachuwa, as leader of the five-member tribunal.

Bulkachuwa, had on May 22, recused herself from heading the panel, following a petition that was lodged against her by the PDP and Atiku.

The petitioners had argued that it would be wrong to allow Bulkachuwa whose husband and son are active card-carrying members of the All Progressives Congress, APC, which sponsored President Buhari’s election.

Garba promised that the tribunal would be fair to all parties in the suit and called for maximum cooperation from lawyers representing parties in order to give expeditious hearing to the petitions.

Garba called the first case, that of the Hope Democratic Party (HDP) and its presidential candidate, Ambrose Oworu. The HDP and Oworu had approached the tribunal to nullify the victory of Buhari in the February 23 presidential poll.

After parties in the suit identified their various processes before the tribunal, Garba fixed June 13 for hearing of motions filed against the hearing of the HDP’s Petition.

However, at yesterday’s proceedings, lawyers to Buhari, INEC and APC urged the tribunal to dismiss the suit of the HDP for being incompetent and lacking in merit.

Meanwhile, a mild drama ensued when a factional National Chairman of the HDP, Poland Awinitabre, disowned counsel for the HDP and Oworu.

It started when two different lawyers, Nelson Ekwedibia and Donald M. O, announced appearance for the petitioners, forcing the panel to ask Awinitabre who had announced appearance for the party to identify the actual counsel for the HDP.

Responding, the HDP factional national chairman told the panel that “the party has not engaged Nelson Ekwedibia.”

But Ekwedibia told the panel that he was engaged by Owuru, who is both National Chairman of the HDP and the party’s candidate in the February 23 presidential election.

Ekwedibia further informed the tribunal that he was the one who filed the petition against President Buhari and has been representing the two petitioners since the beginning of the case.

Similarly, the chairman fixed today for hearing of all applications against the petition of Atiku and the PDP.

Shawn Solomon Elliot

Ukpiebo Solomon Elliot is a talented and well motivated Professional Associate Writer, Proofreader and Political scientist. He is a graduate of Political Science and Public Administration, University of Benin and also holds a Diploma in Desktop Publishing and Computer Science.

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