The Supreme Court has for the second consecutive time struck out the appeal filed by Hope Democratic Party (HDP) and its presidential candidate, Chief Ambrose Owuru, against the verdict of the Presidential Election Petition Tribunal, which dismissed their petitions against the election of President Muhammadu Buhari.
In a unanimous decision Monday, the five-member panel of the apex court struck out the appeal shortly after it was withdrawn by the plaintiffs’ lead counsel, Sunday Ezema.
The Supreme Court had earlier struck out the same appeal on the grounds that Owuru and his party engaged in gross abuse of court processes by filing two notices of appeal contrary to the provisions of the law.
The PDP and Owuru had approached the Supreme Court to set aside the judgment of the Presidential Election Petition Tribunal, which had earlier dismissed their petition against Buhari’s election.
In its earlier ruling, the apex court had described as unmeritorious and an abuse of court processes the petitioners’ appeal.
The appeal was also struck out on the ground that the appellants failed to appeal the August 22 ruling of the tribunal which had struck out their petition for being incompetent.
Dissatisfied, the party and Owru filed a fresh application asking the Supreme Court to reverse its judgement delivered on October 3, claiming that the judgment, which was in favor of Buhari, is invalid and unconstitutional since it was based on technicalities.
In the fresh motion on notice brought pursuant to Order Eight rule two of the Supreme Court rules and sections 6 and 36 of the 1999 constitution and section 22 of the Supreme Court Act, the appellants pleaded with the court to restore their appeal for fresh hearing on its merit.
They insisted the dismissal of their appeal on October 3 on technical grounds was without compliance with the mandatory procedure.
The fresh motion, predicated on eight grounds, indicated that the appeal dismissed on preliminary objection without requisite applications after filed briefs and incorporation of notice of objection without leave of the apex court is a nullity and liable to be set aside.
But when the matter was called, the counsel to the 1st respondent (President Buhari), Chief Wole Olanipekun (SAN), stated that the court lacked jurisdiction to hear the appeal because the constitutional provision of 60 days for the apex court to hear the appeal has lapsed.
Olanipekun stated further that the appeal is incompetent on the grounds that the 14 days required by the law for an appellant to file an appeal has lapsed, and urged the court to dismiss the appeal.
Meanwhile, both counsel to the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) and APC, Yunus Usman, SAN and Yakubu Maikyau SAN aligned themselves with the submission of Olanipekun and urged the court to impose substantial cost against the counsel to the appellants for wasting the time and resources of the court and the respondents.
When asked by the presiding justice of the five-man panel of the apex court, Justice Kayode Ariwoola, if the appeal was not cut up with section 285 of the constitution, the counsel to the appellants took the hint and accordingly made an oral application for the withdrawal of the appeal.
The apex court by law must hear and determine the appeal within 60 days, however from the August 22 date wherein the tribunal delivered its judgment to Monday, October 28, is 66 days, making the appeal to become statute barred.
“This application having been withdrawn is hereby struck out,” Justice Ariwoola ruled.