The Presidential Election Petition Tribunal sitting in Abuja, will on Wednesday, commence hearing on the petition the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, and its candidate, Atiku Abubakar, filed to challenge the outcome of the February 23 presidential election.
The petitioners, are seeking to invalidate the declaration of President Muhammadu Buhari of the All Progressives Congress, APC, as winner of the presidential contest.
Vanguard reported that a five-man panel of Justices of the Court of Appeal will conduct pre-hearing session on the petition Atiku and his party lodged before the tribunal on March 18.
It was however not clear if the panel will be headed by the President of the Court of Appeal, Justice Zainab Bulkachuwa or by Justice Abdul Aboki who earlier made preliminary orders that compelled the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, to grant all the parties access to electoral materials that were used in the conduct of the election.
Aside INEC, President Buhari and the APC were cited as Respondents in the petition.
It will be recalled that the electoral body had on February 27, declared that Buhari won the presidential contest with 15,191,847 votes to defeat his closest rivalry, Atiku, who it said polled a total of 11,262,978 votes.
However, in their joint petition, Atiku and his party, insisted that data they secured from INEC’s server, revealed that they defeated President Buhari with over 1.6million votes.
The petitioners alleged that INEC had at various stages of the presidential election, unlawful allocated votes to President Buhari, saying they would adduce oral and documentary evidence to show that result of the election as announced by the electoral body, did not represent the lawful valid votes cast.
Atiku alleged that in some states, INEC, deducted lawful votes that accrued to him, in its bid to ensure that Buhari was returned back to office.
The petitioners said they would call evidence of statisticians, forensic examiners and finger-print experts at the hearing of the petition to establish that the scores credited to Buhari were not the product of actual votes validly cast at the polling units.
“The Petitioners plead and shall rely on electronic video recordings, newspaper reports, photographs and photographic images of several infractions of the electoral process by the Respondents”, they added.
More so, in one of the five grounds of the petition, Atiku and the PDP maintained that Buhari was not qualified to run for the office of the President, contending that he does not possess the constitutional minimum qualification of a school certificate.
The petitioners equally serialised results that were recorded from each state of the federation in order to prove that the alleged fraudulent allocation of votes to Buhari and the APC, took place at the polling units, the ward collating centres, local government collating centres and the State collating centres.
They argued that proper collation and summation of the presidential election results would show that contrary to what INEC declared, Atiku, garnered a total of 18,356,732 votes, ahead of Buhari who they said got a total of 16,741,430 votes.