The Presidential Election Petition tribunal on Wednesday dismissed the testimony the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) star witness, Osita Chidoka, for introducing facts not canvassed in the petition when it was filed.
Chidoka served as the National Collation Officer of the PDP during the 2019 presidential election and testified as a star witness for the petitioner.
In its 4th ruling of the day, the Tribunal said the statement was incompetent, having been filed in violation of the provision of the Electoral Act.
The PDP and its presidential candidate, Atiku Abubakar earlier in July presented the former Minister of Aviation as their 62nd witness.
The tribunal, however, ruled against the motion filed by President Muhammadu Buhari, the 2nd respondent, challenging Atiku’s argument on the non-use of the smart card reader and other electronic devices. It agrees that the use of card reader is a valid component of the electoral process
It stated that the petitioners have every right to present their petitions to the court in line with the provisions of the electoral act 2010 as amended. It also says there is no inconsistency in the petition as submitted by the PDP.
The tribunal also struck out the Preliminary Objection of President Buhari seeking to expunge the paragraph of the petition which questioned the qualifications of the president to contest the election.
The tribunal held that in line with section 138 subsection 1(a) of the 1999 constitution, the qualification of any person who participates in an election can be questioned.
The presidential election petition tribunal says Atiku Abubakar, former vice president, can question President Muhammadu Buhari’s qualification in contesting the February presidential election.
The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), the 1st respondent in the case, had filed an application asking the tribunal to dismiss grounds four and five of Atiku’s petition.
Grounds four of the petition is asking the court to disqualify Buhari over non-qualification, while grounds five says the president submitted “false information of a fundamental nature in aid of his qualification to INEC”.
But the court struck out INEC’s application, holding that the petitioner did not err by raising questions on Buhari’s qualification and held that grounds four and five of Atiku’s petition are not a pre-election matter, and ”it is hereby accepted by the court based on the provisions of the electoral act 2010 as amended”.
Atiku had petitioned the tribunal, challenging Buhari’s victory in the election. He said the president was not qualified to vie in the election for allegedly submitting false information to INEC while the president counter-petitioned, saying Atiku was not qualified to run for the office of the president for allegedly not being a citizen of Nigeria by birth.
Meanwhile, the tribunal struck out the paragraphs in the petition wherein the petitioners alleged that there was an arrest, harassment, intimidation etc by the Nigerian Police.
Justice Garba said it would be partial to decide the issue without hearing from those accused of the electoral violence.
The tribunal agreed with the INEC lawyer that for such a serious allegation against the police they ought to have been joined as a party in the suit and not joining them makes it impossible to enter a decision on the allegations.
The Tribunal has now gone on a ‘short recess’.