Tribunal Dismisses GEJ, PDP's Bid To Stop CPC's Suit On Presidential Poll

Source: THEWILL. - thewillnigeria.com
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Abuja, July 14, (THEWILL) – The Presidential Election Tribunal sitting in Abuja has dismissed the preliminary objection filed by President Goodluck Ebele Jonathan and Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) seeking to stop Congress for Progressive Change (CPC) challenge of the April 16, Presidential election.

The Tribunal sitting in the premises of the Court of Appeal in a unanimous decision striking out the two objections filed by the PDP and its candidate ruled that the CPC’s petition is competent even though it was filed on a Sunday, usually a non-working day.

Counsels to the Respondents in the suit had asked the tribunal to dismiss it on technical grounds, arguing that the suit was filed on a Sunday.

Delivering the tribunal’s ruling, President of the Court of Appeal, Justice Isa Salami said that the Respondents did not supply any proof that it suffered any injustice(s) following the Sunday filing, adding that by virtues of Section 150(1) of the Evidence Act, there was a presumption of regularity and as such it should be presumed that there was nothing wrong with filing the petition on that Sunday as it was within the time limit. He added that it was too premature to dismiss the suit on technical grounds just because it was filed on Sunday without first looking at the merit of the case.

The tribunal however had the allegations of complicity in the alleged rigging of the poll by the Police, Army and the Civil Defence Corps struck out on the ground that they were not joined in the suit as Defendants by the CPC.

The tribunal also dismissed the argument made by counsels to the Respondent where they said the CPC petition was an abuse of court process because it failed to join Its Presidential candidates (General Buhari and Pastor Tunde Bakare) in the suit.

Justice Isa Salami, who is leading a 5-members panel of justices ruled that the CPC being a legally registered political party in Nigeria and having duly sponsored its Presidential candidate and deputy acted within the law to have filed the petition without including Buhari and Bakare as parties.

The tribunal however ruled that it was constitutionally undoable to order the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to conduct another election between the candidates of the CPC and PDP as sought by the CPC.

The court thereafter adjourned to August 01, 2011 for further trial of the suit.

But the counsel to the PDP, Chief Joe Gadzama SAN, told reporters that the Respondents would challenge the verdict of the tribunal at the Supreme Court but added that they would not apply for a stay of proceedings at the tribunal as the Electoral Act would not permit it.

The CPC whose candidates Buhari and Bakare lost woefully at the Presidential poll blamed the alleged rigging machine of the PDP for their loss and have asked the tribunal to annul the election in some states mostly in the South South and some parts of the north, where it was overwhelmingly defeated.