How Tension Was Raised At The Presidential Election Tribunal Before Hearing Of Atiku – Buhari Case Commenced

The official commencement of hearing into the petition by Atiku Abubakar, candidate of the People’s Democratic Party, PDP, in the Feb 23 presidential election, challenging Muhammadu Buhari of the All Progressives congress, did not come with drama.

Anxiety and palpable tension yesterday  rocked the Court of Appeal, Abuja Division following a 10-minute stand down of proceeding, requested by the prosecution counsel.

Wednesday’s sitting was for commencement of hearing into the petition by Atiku and PDP challenging the declaration of President Muhammadu Buhari as winner of the 2019 presidential election.

As the proceeding was about to begin, Dr Livy Uzoukwu SAN, counsel to the petitioners made an oral application for a 10-minite audience with the panel and two counsels each representing the appellants and respondents.

Efforts made by INEC’s counsel Yunus Usman to scuttle the meeting in chamber was fruitless as Wole Olanipekun SAN, who is representing Buhari confirmed to the panel that Uzoukwu had whispered to him and few other counsel about his request.

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Subsequently, Chairman of the 5-man presidential election tribunal, Zainab Bulkachuwa, who is the President, Court of Appeal granted the application.

As at the time of this report, the closed-door meeting is ongoing.

Uche Secondus, National Chairman of the Peoples Democratic Party represented PDP, Nuhu Ribadu represented President Muhammadu Buhari the 2nd respondent, APC (3rd respondent) was represented by it’s National Legal Adviser

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Babatunde Ogara, while Oluwatoyin Babalola, Director Legal Services represented INEC (1st respondent).
Dr Livy Uzoukwu announced legal representation for the petitioners; Yunus Ustaz Usman SAN entered appearance for INEC,
Wole Olanipekun SAN, was counsel for the 2nd respondent, while Lateef Fagbemi SAN represented the 3rd respondent (APC).

Meanwhile, the Presidential Election Petition Tribunal sitting in Abuja on has fixed 22nd of May 2019 to hear the application which is yet to be filed by the Peoples Democratic Party ( PDP ) asking the President of Appeal Court, Justice Zainab Bulkachuwa to recuse herself  from the panel.

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The PDP is asking Justice Bulkachuwa to recuse herself because she is married to a senator-elect of the All Progressives Congress.

Counsel to Atiku Abubakar, presidential candidate of the PDP, Livy Ozuokwu had asked the Chairman of the tribunal to recuse herself on the ground that she will be bias in the case.

At the resumed hearing of the case Ozuokwu asked the tribunal for 10minutes stand down and the court granted his request to file the application tomorrow Thursday.

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The tribunal therefore adjourned the sitting to 22nd May.

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