The Presidential Election Petition Tribunal is now headed by Justice Mohammed Lawal Garba, who is the Presiding Justice of the Lagos Division of the Court of Appeal.
Garba replaced the President of the Court of Appeal, Justice Zainab Bulkachuwa, who withdrew from the panel on May 22 following an allegation of likelihood of bias leveled against her by the Peoples Democratic Party and its candidate in the February 23 presidential election, Alhaji Atiku Abubakar.
Garba, who appeared on the five-man panel for the first time on Monday, watched President Muhammadu Buhari and his party, the All Progressives Congress (APC), urged the Presidential Election Petition Tribunal, sitting in Abuja, to strike out the petition filed by Atiku and PDP, challenging his victory in the February 23 presidential election.
Atiku and his party had, in their petition which has INEC, Buhari and the APC as first to third respondents, asked the tribunal to nullify Buhari’s election on the ground of alleged malpractices and gross violation of Electoral Act 2010, as amended.
When the Tribunal resumed hearing in the matter on Monday, counsel to the electoral body, Yunus Ustaz Usman asked the tribunal to dismiss the petition challenging Buhari’s declaration as winner of the said election on the ground that it failed to comply with paragraph 18 (1) first schedule of the Electoral Act.
In his second application, INEC’s lawyer asked the tribunal to strike out some parts of the petition and at the end of the day, the entire petition.
He also asked the five-member panel of the tribunal to strike out Atiku and PDP’s petition for failure to join the Vice President, Prof Yemi Osibanjo, in the suit.
In his own submission, counsel to President Buhari, Chief Wole Olanipekun (SAN) prayed for the dismissal of the entire petition filed by Atiku and his party.
He also prayed for the striking out of the reply filed by the petitioner to the reply of the respondents’ application.
Prince Lateef Fagbemi (SAN), representing the APC, in his submission, told the tribunal that he has three applications praying for the striking out of the entire petition or striking out of some paragraphs of the petition.
However, counsel to PDP, Levy Uzoukwu SAN, told the court that it has five pending applications. One of which was challenging preliminary objection to the respondents’ applications praying to strike out the substantive matter.
Justice M. L Garba after hearing the submissions of counsels in the matter, adjourned to tomorrow to hear all the pending applications from both the APC and PDP.