Security All Over FCT As Buhari, Atiku Know Fate Today
The Presidential Election Petition Tribunal (PEPT) sitting at the Court of Appeal, Abuja Division, will this morning deliver judgment on the petition filed by the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and its standard bearer, Atiku Abubakar, against Muhammadu Buhari, the candidate of the All Progressives Congress (APC) in the February 23, 2019 presidential poll.
The tribunal, in a notice of hearing conveyed to parties in the petition through text messages and telephone calls on Tuesday, disclosed its resolution to make public today, its findings and final decision on the petition.
The notice released by the secretariat of the tribunal reads: ‘Re: CA/PEPT/ 002/2019 – ATIKU ABUBAKAR & 1 OR. VS INEC & 2 ORS. Take notice that judgment in the above petition has been slated for Wednesday, September 11, 2019 at the Court of Appeal/Presidential Petition Tribunal by 9:30a.m”.
At the time of this report, security had been beefed up within the vicinity of the Court of Appeal, Abuja, and vehicular movements restricted.
Atiku and PDP had on March 18 dragged the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), President Buhari, and the APC to the tribunal, wherein they challenged the declaration of Buhari as winner of the presidential election.
The petitioners had claimed massive rigging of the poll in favour of Buhari, and therefore prayed for cancellation of the election, citing irregularities, malpractices, and non-qualification of Buhari to contest the election.
After both counsel to the petitioners and the respondents had adopted their final written addresses on August 21, the chairman of the five-man tribunal, Justice Mohammed Garba, reserved judgment.
Buhari was declared the winner of the election with 15,191,847 votes, while Abubakar, his closest challenger, polled 11,262,978 votes according to the results declared by the Independent National Electoral Commission on February 26.
But in a bid to establish his petition, Atiku, during the hearing, called 62 witnesses, tendered several documents and video clips before the tribunal.
On his part, Buhari called seven witnesses and also tendered documents to prove that he genuinely defeated Atiku at the poll.
Surprisingly, the INEC (1st respondent) and APC (3rd respondent) did not call any witness but elected to align with the evidence of the petitioners’ witnesses to support their defence.
Atiku and the PDP had, at the last leg of the hearing in the petition, alleged that Buhari used “fundamental falsehood” to secure clearance from INEC to participate in the poll.
PDP Goes Spiritual, Takes Case To God
Meanwhile, as the tribunal delivers its judgment today, PDP on Tuesday took the issue to God, seeking His face for favourable judgment for its candidate, Atiku Abubakar.
PDP had organised a 12-day prayer gathering under the auspices of the PDP National Chapel (PDP-NC) which was to culminate on September 13, that was speculated to be the judgment day.
The theme of the prayer session was ‘On the Altar with Supreme Judge of Universe’. The party’s national chairman, Prince Uche Secondus, is the national coordinator of the PDP-NC.
The circular of the prayer session had read, “PDP prayer session, with the theme: On the Altar with Supreme Judge of Universe, Isaiah 41: 21, Gen, 13: 4.
“We are in God’s presence entreating His Divine mercy and justice to prevail on behalf of PDP and Nigerians at the presidential tribunal. Date: August 29 to September 14.
“This is to notify all concerned that the 12 days ongoing prayer project regarding the presidential tribunal (appeal) judgment which is slated for August 29, 2019 will come to an end on Thursday, September 13.
“Consequently, we are all admonished to come out in agreement to fight this course through prayer.”
PDP members honoured the call for prayers and had since August 29 besieged the party’s prayer chapel located within the national secretariat, singing and praying in hope that God will grant them and their candidate victory today.
The prayer session usually lasts between two and three hours since it started.
Meanwhile, pro-democracy groups, under the aegis of Democratic Defenders of Nigeria (DEDON) and Justice Now, on Tuesday called for an enabling environment that will result in justice ahead of today’s judgment.
They urged the Presidential Election Petition Tribunal to ensure justice during its judgment on the petition between the presidential candidate of the PDP, Atiku Abubakar, and President Muhammadu Buhari of the All Progressives Congress (APC).
The leader of the group, Victor Morrow, stressed that Nigerians are looking forward for fair judgment, adding that the bench must have the courage to dispense justice even at the expense of being hounded by the executive.
Morrow made the call in Abuja during the unveiling of ‘#JusticeNow campaign’ as part of citizens’ call for fair judgment from the Nigeria 2019 presidential electoral tribunal.
He urged the judiciary to be fair and firm, adding that Nigerians and the international community are interested in the future of the country.
The group leader said that fair judgment will boost the image of and confidence of Nigerians in the judiciary, as an unjust judgment will diminish the hope of the people in the judiciary.