The Presidential Election Petition Tribunal (PEPT) has dismissed the petition by the Peoples Democratic Movement (PDM) challenging the outcome of the last presidential election won by President Muhammadu Buhari of the All Progressives Congress (APC).
In the petition, the PDM and its candidate, Amichi Habu, asked the court to void the election on the ground that the party’s logo was excluded by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) from the ballot papers.
When the petition was called yesterday, the petitioners’ lawyer Aliyu Lemu said he had been instructed by his clients to withdraw it.
INEC, Buhari and the APC were the respondents.
Lawyers to the respondents – Yunus Usman (SAN) for INEC, Yusuf Ali (SAN) for Buhari and Funke Adekoya (SAN) for the APC – did not object when Lemu moved his application for withdrawal.
In the application brought under paragraphs 29 and 47(1) and (20 of the First Schedule to the Electoral Act 2010, the petitioners prayed for the court’s leave to “bring and argue this application outside the pre-hearing session and leave to withdraw petition …outside of the pre-hearing session”.
Lemu said his clients decided to withdraw the petition, having found an alternative way to address the complaints they raised in their petition.
The chairman of the court’s five-man panel, Justice Mohammed Garba said in view of the submissions of the counsel for the petitioners as well as the learned senior counsel for the respondents, “we find it expedient to grant this application as prayed; it is granted. And leave is granted to the petitioners to withdraw this petition from the court”.
Justice Garba averred that since the petition had been withdrawn, the proper order to be made was dismissal.
He dismissed the petition, a decision the other four members of the court’s panel agreed with.
In a supporting affidavit, Habu said he agreed with his party to have the petition withdrawn because “we have found other alternative ways of seeking redress for the complaints alleged in our petition”.
He added: “It will be best to withdraw our petition in the circumstance to decongest the docket of this honourable court and save precious judicial time and to prevent the respondents from any unnecessary expense of defending this petition.
“Withdrawing this petition is an extreme circumstance; otherwise, this honourable court will be put to the task of hearing a petition which the petitioners no longer wish to pursue.
“It will be in the interest of justice for this honourable court to grant the petitioners leave to bring and argue this application outside the pre-hearing session and to also withdraw this petition to save the precious time of this court and to prevent the respondents from incurring unnecessary expense to defend this petition.
“The grant of this application will not prejudice the respondents in any way.”
In his verifying affidavit, PDM’s National Secretary, Abubakar Abdullahi, corroborated what Habu said in the supporting affidavit, particularly the petitioners’ decision to explore alternative means of seeking redress.
With the dismissal of the petition by the PDM and Habu, the court is left with two petitions to deal with: the Coalition for Change (C4C) and its presidential candidate, Geff Ojinika, having earlier withdrawn the petition.