Presidency: How the courts will decide Buhari, Atiku’s fate

Posted by John Chuks Azu | 7 May 2019 | 2,650 times

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The Presidential Elections Petitions Tribunal in Abuja and the Supreme Court will be examining major issues raised by both the PDP and its candidate, Atiku Abubakar, and the defence by the APC and its candidate, President Muhammadu Buhari, concerning the February 23, 2019, presidential election. There are petitions by three other presidential candidates who are also alleging widespread irregularities and substantial non-compliance with the Electoral Act.

The candidates: Ambrose Owuru of the Hope Democratic Party (HDP), Geff Chizee Ojinka of the Coalition for Change (CC), and Aminchi Habu of the Peoples Democratic Movement (PDM). The powers, procedures and the main issues in contention are examined below.

Constitutional powers of the courts

Section 239 (1) of the Nigerian Constitution empowers the Court of Appeal with original jurisdiction to hear and determine the validity of a person elected to the office of the president or vice president. Because of their sui generis (special nature), election petitions are to be decided within a time limit. Section 134 (1) to (3) of the Electoral Act, 2010, provides for 21 days for filing of petition after the declaration of results.

Further, it provides for 180 days (six months) for determination of the petition by the tribunal. It provides that an appeal from a decision of the election tribunal or court shall be heard and disposed of within 90 days from the date of the delivery of judgment.

Procedure for determination of petitions

A five-member panel of justices, including the President of the Court of Appeal, Justice Zainab Bulkachuwa, are expected to begin hearing in the petitions challenging the outcome of the presidential election. In order to adhere to the time limit for the determination of the questions brought before it, the panel will normally allot time for oral arguments by the lead counsels for the parties for each petition based on its rules.

The justices will seek to clarify or elaborate on any knotty issue in the briefs of the parties before it. As a judicial rule, the lead counsel for the petitioner would be allowed a rebuttal on “points of law” from issues raised by the opposing camps.

As the court of first instance, the tribunal is expected to review materials used for the election, hear witnesses’ testimonies and analyse statistical presentations within the approved time. (Daily Trust)

Source: News Express

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