The People’s Democratic Party, PDP, and its presidential candidate, Alhaji Atiku Abubakar, on Monday assembled a team 20 Senior Advocates of Nigeria, SAN, and 400 witnesses, just as they filed petitions challenging President Muhammadu Buhari’s victory in the February 23 presidential election, at the Presidential Election Petition Tribunal.
Atiku and the PDP in the petition filed yesterday asked to be declared the winner of the election. In the alternative, he asked the Tribunal to nullify the election and order a fresh one that would be counted in line with the country’s electoral laws. While the National Legal Adviser for the PDP, Emmanuel Enoidem, spoke on behalf of the party after completing the filing process, Chief Mike Ozekhome, SAN, spoke on behalf of Atiku’s legal team.
Speaking with journalists at the Court of Appeal, Abuja premises of the tribunal, where the legal process was instituted, Enoidem said over 400 witnesses have been assembled from all over the country to testify during the hearing of the petition.
Also at the tribunal were the National Secretary, Senator Umaru Ibrahim Tsauri; the National Publicity Secretary, Mr. Kola Ologbondiyan; other leaders of the opposition and some international observers.
Atiku and his party are challenging the electoral victory of Buhari and the APC on the grounds of alleged massive rigging, malpractices and non-compliance with the electoral laws. Respondents in the suit are the ruling All Progressives Congress, APC, Buhari and INEC.
Confirming to journalists that the petition had been filled, Enoidem stated that the PDP and its presidential candidate have already assembled a powerful legal team comprising 20 Senior Advocates of Nigeria, SANs, and other retinue of lawyers who will establish the facts of the petition.
While expressing confidence that the party has all the necessary evidence that would overturn the result of the election, he said, “We came to present a joint petition of our party, the PDP and the candidate of our party.
“The last day for the petition was actually tomorrow but, we decided to file today (yesterday).
“We told the tribunal that our candidate, who won the election massively, across the country, be declared the winner of that election.
“In the alternative, we also asked the election be set aside on the grounds of irregularities which were very apparent across the country.
“We have a pool of 20 SANS who are tested in election petition matters and other senior lawyers who are also working with them. So, we are very ready for the petition. The petition is well packaged,the depositions are well put together and more than 400 witnesses are going to testify in this petition.
“Nigerians are at home with what happened on February 23 in this country, the sham they called election. Of course, we are going to re-present the facts to Nigerian as the facts are already in the domain on Nigerians. We are not going to manufacture facts.”
On the order earlier granted Atiku to inspect materials used in the conduct of the presidential election, he said his party, which will be using the report of polling agents across the country to establish facts of the petition, also have trained personnel to carry out the inspection.
A member of the legal team, Chief Mike Ozekhome SAN, while confirming the filing of the petition said: “The petition was solid, strong and unassailable,” adding: “The true owner and keeper of the people’s mandate would soon be declared.”
Ozekhome, however, lamented the non-cooperative attitude of INEC with the petitioners.