By Ikechukwu Nnochiri
ABUJA—A faction of Hope Democratic Party, HDP, has approached the Presidential Election Petition Tribunal sitting in Abuja to withdraw a petition filed in the name of the party, which is challenging the re-election of President Muhammadu Buhari.
Presidential candidate of the party, Chief Ambrose Owuru, had in a petition he jointly filed with the party, queried the declaration of President Buhari as the valid winner of the February 23 presidential election.
The tribunal was in the petition, which has HDP as the 2nd petitioner, urged to nullify Buhari’s election and order a fresh poll.
According to the petitioners who secured a total of 1,663 votes, President Buhari’s re-election was vitiated by substantial non-compliance with mandatory provisions of the Electoral Act.
Meanwhile, at the resumed proceeding, yesterday, the Justice Mohammed Garba-led five-member panel tribunal, said it was in receipt of two fresh applications filed on behalf of HDP.
In the applications dated June 18, a faction of the HDP applied for leave of the tribunal to withdraw the petition.
The faction which maintained that the party never authorised anyone to lodge the petition, equally urged the tribunal to allow it to change the counsel its presidential candidate, Owuru, engaged on its behalf.
Owing to the development, counsel to the Owuru-led faction of the party, Mr. Oliver Eya, persuaded the tribunal to grant him a short adjournment to enable him to respond to the applications he said was brought by “impostors.”
His request was accordingly granted by the panel, even as the applications were adjourned till June 25 for hearing.
Though the applicants were not represented, yesterday, however, one Mr. Tony Esiegbe had announced appearance for them on the last adjourned date.
It will be recalled that the tribunal had on May 22, rejected a motion the petitioners filed to stop Buhari’s 2nd term inauguration that took place on May 29.
The petitioners had in the motion they predicated on section 1(2), 6(6), 139, 239 of the 1999 Constitution, as amended, as well as on sections 26(4) (5), 138(1) (b) of the Electoral Act, 2010, as amended, asked the tribunal to restrain the Acting Chief Justice of Nigeria, Justice Tanko Ibrahim, from swearing-in President Buhari, pending the determination of all the petitions challenging his declaration as winner of the presidential contest.
The move was also opposed by the faction that has applied to withdraw the entire petition.