By Ikechukwu Nnochiri
ABUJA—-The Presidential Election Petition Tribunal sitting in Abuja has dismissed President Muhammadu Buhari’s contention that candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, Atiku Abubakar, was not qualified to challenge his re-election.
The tribunal, in a ruling, held that the argument which President Buhari canvassed in a preliminary objection he filed on May 14, was “diversionary, incompetent and academic”.
It held that none of the parties disputed the fact that Atiku duly participated in the February 23 presidential poll.
The tribunal held that Buhari ought to have filed a Cross-Appeal to query Atiku’s eligibility.
It will be recalled that the All Progressives Congress, APC, had insisted that Atiku is a Cameroonian and not a Nigerian by birth.
Meanwhile, the tribunal dismisses argument by the petitioners that President Buhari’s entire reply to the petition was incompetent.
The tribunal said it had the discretion to consider the reply.
More so, relying on Paragraph 16(a) and (b) of the First Schedule to the Electoral Act, the tribunal struck out aspects of the petitioners processes relating to witness statement of former Aviation Minister and National Collation Agent of the PDP during the presidential election, Chief Osita Chidoka.
Chidoka who appeared as the star witness for the petitioners, had among other things, tendered documents to support the allegation that result of the presidential poll was electronically transmitted to INEC’s central server.
The tribunal held that his evidence introduced fresh facts to the petition.