Tribunal fixes May 22 to hear application seeking to stop Buhari’s inauguration

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The Presidential Election Petition Tribunal in Abuja, has
fixed May 22 to hear an application seeking an order to restrain Chief Justice
of Nigeria (CJN) or any other Justice from swearing-in Muhammadu Buhari as
president on May 29.

Chief Ambrose Owuru, Candidate of the Hope Democratic Party
(HDP) and his party, who are before the tribunal challenging their alleged
exclusion from the February 23 presidential election brought the application
for consideration on Tuesday.

Justice Zainab Bulkachua, President of the Appeal Court,
leading four other justices adjourned hearing on the application on account of
non-proper service on the respondents.

Buhari, Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) and
All Progressives Congress (APC) are respondents in the matter.

“The application filed by the appellants/applicants and all
other interlocutory applications are hereby adjourned until May 22 for hearing.

“It is hereby ordered that all exchanges of processes and
filing of respondents’ briefs are done within the period specified.

“The sitting on the petition filed by the Chief Ambrose
Albert Owuru and the Hope Democratic Party (HDP) is hereby adjourned until May
22’’, Bulkachua held.

The applicants had brought the application pursuant to
Sections 1 (2), 6 (6) 139, and 239 of the 1999 Constitution (as amended).

The applicants had also relied on Sections 26 (4) (5) and
138 (1) of the Electoral Act 2010 (as amended) and under the inherent
jurisdiction of the court.

They are praying for an order restraining the first
respondent (Buhari) from presenting himself on May 29 or any other date for
swearing in or taking of oath of allegiance and oath of office as president.

Owuru and the HDP are also seeking an order restraining the
CJN or any other justice in that stead from swearing-in or administering the
oath of allegiance and oath of office on May 29 or any other date on Buhari.

They are praying the tribunal to activate those orders
pending the determination of their petition contesting the alleged invalidity
of the substituted and questioned presidential election of February 23.

The applicants predicated the application on the ground that
they had filed a petition on March 3 challenging the validity of the election
and the return of the first respondent as winner of the election.

They had raised the other ground to hinge in the fact that
pleadings had been concluded among parties and petition fixed for pre-trial
hearing session following services of hearing notice to all parties which
commenced May 8.

The other ground of the application, according to the
applicants, stems from the frantic ongoing preparation for the inauguration of
the first respondent in spite of the pending petition.

“A restraining order by this court is appropriate to preserve
the subject matter of this petition and prevent the first respondent foisting a
fiat accompli and state of helplessness on the court and render the petition
nugatory.

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“The law is settled that once the question of the validity
of Election of any person is challenged as to whether he is validly elected or
not, the person is not competent to take office or assume the seat of power
until the matter is dealt with,” they claimed.

However, Chief Wole Olanipekun (SAN), Counsel for the
president, informed the panel of his application seeking an order to dismiss
the entire processes filed by the appellants, adding that their actions were
laughable and incompetent.

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