The petition filed by the Peoples Democratic Movement (PDM) challenging the victory of President Muhammadu Buhari at the Presidential Election Tribunal has caused a major division in the party as the national chairman of the party, Chief Frank Igwebuike, has asked the tribunal to strike out the name of the party from the petition.
However, in a counter affidavit, the national secretary of the party, Egnr. Abubakar Gwada, urged the tribunal to dismiss the motion on the grounds that the national chairman of the party does not have the authority of party to depose to the affidavit nor to file the instant application on behalf of the PDM.
The development, which reared its head yesterday, scuttled the pre-hearing session of the petition at the tribunal.
Igwebuike had, in a motion filed on July 9, asked the tribunal to strike out the name of the party from the petition against Buhari.
In the motion brought pursuant to rule 29 of the rules of procedure for election petition and section 6 (6) of the 1999 constitution, the applicant further sought leave of court to withdraw PDM as a petitioner in the petition No: CA/PEPC/004/2019.
The tribunal had on June 27, adjourned proceedings to Wednesdays for the presentation of pre- hearing report.
However, the motion, which was filed by counsel for the applicant, Morrison Nunu, scuttled the process. The national chairman of the party said the motion was in the overall interest of the nation.
According to him, “the party had in its wisdom re-evaluated the probability of the petition succeeding and decided to withdraw from the petition in view of the correspondence of INEC to the party dated March 5, 2019.”
He explained in his 14-paragraphs affidavit that their withdrawal from the petition is voluntary and without any duress of influence and in the best interest of the party and the nation.
Igwebuike further averred that PDM did not reach any agreement, political gains or otherwise compromise with any of the respondents to this petition or any other person or party for the withdrawal of the petition.
In his counter affidavit, Gwada averred that the petition is a joint petition filed with the consent of the PDM and financed solely by the first petitioner, Pastor Aminchi Habu, the presidential candidate of the party.
Gwada further told the tribunal that Igwebuike is acting alone without the authority of the national decision- making organs of the party, which are the National Executive Committee (NEC) or National Working Committee (NWC) of the party.
He told the tribunal that the party is still very much interested in the petition and a decision to withdraw the name of the party from the petition can only be taken by the the National Executive Committee (NEC) or National Working Committee (NWC) of the party. Counsel for the respondents all agreed that they were served with the motion and counter affidavit.
While adjourning the proceedings to July 18, chairman of the tribunal, Justice Mohammed Garba lamented that the pre-hearing session of the party’s petition has been scuttled by the motion.
Meanwhile, the tribunal has fixed July 18 to hear PDM’s application to withdraw the petition against President Muhammadu Buhari’s electoral victory.