The Hope Democratic Party and its presidential candidate, Ambrose Owuru, have asked the Presidential Election Petition Tribunal to stop the planned inauguration of President Muhammadu Buhari on May 29 for a second term pending the hearing and determination of their appeal challenging the President’s victory at the February 23 poll.
The application by the petitioners was scheduled for hearing on Tuesday, but it was adjourned till May 22 after the respondents informed the five-man tribunal led by Justice Zainab Bulkachuwa that they were only served with the application shortly before the commencement of the proceedings and asked for time to respond.
In their application filed on May 9, 2019, the petitioners, through their lawyer, Mr. Oliver Eya, contended that Buhari should not be sworn in while his election was still being challenged at the tribunal.
They, therefore, sought two prayers, with one seeking an order restraining Buhari from presenting himself for the inauguration scheduled to hold on May 29, and the other restraining the Acting Chief Justice of Nigeria, Justice Tanko Muhammad, from administering the oath of office and allegiance to the President on the day of inauguration.
Their prayers read, “An order of this honourable court restraining the 1st respondent herein from presenting himself on May 29, 2019 or any other date for swearing in or inauguration ceremony or taking the oath of allegiance or office as the President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, pending the determination of this Petition and the question as to whether he has been validly elected as challenged and pending before the court.
“An order of this honourable court restraining the Chief Justice of Nigeria or any other Justice in that stead from swearing in, administering the oath of allegiance and oath of office or participating in the inauguration ceremony on May 29, 209 or any other date to swear in the 1st respondent, s the President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria pending the determination of this petition contesting the validity of the substituted and questioned presidential election of February 23, 2019.”
The petitioners are challenging Buhari’s victory at the poll on the grounds that the rescheduling of the presidential election from February 16, 2019 to February 23, 2019 was done “without any recognisable presence or existence and or compliance with prescribed statutory conditions to do so.”
Buhari, the Independent National Electoral Commission and the All Progressives Congress are the three respondents to the petition.
They were all represented by their lawyers at Tuesday’s pre-hearing session.
The pioneer Chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, Mr. Nuhu Ribadu, a top member of the APC in Adamawa State, represented Buhari in the gallery at the Tuesday’s proceedings.