The Hope Democratic Party (HDP) and its presidential candidate in the February 23 election, Chief Ambrose Owuru, have asked the Supreme Court to set aside the judgment of the Presidential Election Petition Tribunal, which dismissed their joint petition against the electoral victory of President Muhammadu Buhari in the February 23 presidential poll.
The petitioners had asked the tribunal to void the presidential election of February 23 on the ground that it was unlawfully conducted by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) due to illegal shift of the said election from February 16 to February 23.
They had prayed the tribunal that in the place of the election of February 23, it should uphold a referendum election said to have been conducted on February 16, in which Owuru reportedly won with over 50 million voice votes by Nigerians.
But after hearing out both HDP and Owuru, the tribunal declined statutory jurisdiction on the petition on the grounds that a referendum election is not known to the law.
Specifically, the tribunal held that that its constitutional duty to determine whether a person has been validly elected as president is restricted only to an election conducted by INEC.
Aggrieved by the judgment of the tribunal, HDP and Owuru approached the Supreme Court with an appeal urging it to void the tribunal’s verdict.
The appellants insisted that the referendum election of February 16, 2019, was in accordance with the provisions of sections 14, 132 and 133 of the 1999 constitution.
In the notice of appeal filed at the apex court, Owuru and HDP challenged the tribunal’s decision that dismissed their petition on August 22 on grounds of jurisdiction.
Respondents in the appeal are President Buhari, INEC and the All Progressives Congress (APC).
The appeal which was predicated on 12 grounds prayed the apex court to order the swearing-in ceremony of Ambrose Owuru as the duly elected president of Nigeria based on the February 16 referendum.
Counsel to the appellants in the notice of appeal, Chukwunonyerem Njoku claimed that the tribunal gave wrong interpretation to section 285 of the constitution and proceeded on the wrong assumption of the law that its constitutional duty to determine whether a person has been validly elected as president is restricted only to an election conducted by the electoral body.
The HDP and its presidential candidate also faulted the tribunal’s judgment on the grounds that it was not based on proper evaluation and legal assessment and reflection of their purport and went out to re-invent the respondents’ abandoned pleadings and failure to disprove their case as presented and made out.