The Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and its presidential candidate Atiku Abubakar have floored the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) in the first two motions filed by the electoral body at the Presidential Election Petitions Tribunal in Abuja.
In the first motion ruled on by the tribunal, filed on May 5, INEC had sought the dismissal of Atiku and PDP’s petitions because they failed to join the Vice-President Yemi Osinbajo in their petitions against President Buhari and the electoral umpire.
The tribunal in its ruling read by Justice Mohammed Garba said that a vice presidential candidate is not a necessary party in an election petition but an appendage of the presidential candidate who nominated him.
The second motion filed by INEC on April 25 which seeks among others, the striking out of: 1. The petitioners’ list of documents relied on by the petition, 2. Petitioners’ list of witnesses, 3. Some paragraphs of the petition.
The grounds of the INEC’s motion is that the petitioners’ lead counsel, Livy Uzoukwu (SAN), who signed the petitioners’ list of witnesses and other documents was not on the roll of lawyers kept by the Chief Registrar of the Supreme Court and as such cannot practise law in Nigeria.
The tribunal says if the allegation is found to be true all the documents of the petitioners will be struck out.
Uzoukwu debunks INEC’s allegation and said he was called to the Nigerian bar in 1982.
In its ruling, Justice Garba noted that INEC appears to have made a detour by not further responding to Uzoukwu’s claims. He rules that that documents signed by Uzoukwu as a lawyer whose name appears on the rolls of the Supreme Court were validly and competently filed.