2019 Poll: Why Buhari should not be sworn-in on May 29, HPD tells tribunal
ABUJA- Dispute over the outcome of the February 23
presidential election assumed a new dimension on Tuesday,
as the Hope Democratic Party, HDP, applied for a court
order to stop President Muhammadu Buhari from being
sworn-in for a second term on May 29.
President Muhammadu Buhari
The party and its presidential candidate, Chief Ambrose
Owuru, in a fresh motion, asked the Presidential Election
Petition Tribunal sitting in Abuja, to restrain the Acting
Chief Justice of Nigeria, CJN, Justice Tanko Muhammad,
from administering any oath on President Buhari at the
expiration of his current term, pending the determination of
the petition challenging his re-election.
The petitioners further applied for an order of the tribunal to
restrain President Buhari from presenting himself to be
sworn-in, until “the question as to whether he has been
validly elected”, is determined.
The motion was predicated on section 1(2), 6(6), 139, 239
of the 1999 Constitution, as amended, as well as on
sections 26(4) (5), 138(1) (b) of the Electoral Act, 2010, as
Cited as 1st to 3rd Respondents in the matter were
President Buhari, the Independent National Electoral
Commission, INEC, and the All Progressives Congress, APC.
Specifically, two principal prayers in the motion on notice
dated May 9, read: “An order of this honourable court
restraining the 1st respondent herein from presenting
himself on May 29, 2019 or any other date for swearing in
or inauguration ceremony or taking the oath of allegiance or
office as the President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria,
pending the determination of this Petition and the question
as to whether he has been validly elected as challenged
and pending before the court”.
As well as, “An order of this honourable court restraining
the Chief Justice of Nigeria or any other Justice in that
stead from swearing in, administering the oath of allegiance
and oath of office or participating in the inauguration
ceremony on May 29, 209 or any other date to swear in the
1st respondent, s the President of the Federal Republic of
Nigeria pending the determination of this petition contesting
the validity of the substituted and questioned presidential
election of February 23, 2019.”
Enumerating grounds upon which they filed the motion, the
HPD and its candidate who secured a total of 1,663 in the
presidential election, contended that it would be legally
inappropriate to allow President Buhari to assume office on
the basis of an election that he did not validly win.
According to the petitioners, “A restraining order by this
court is appropriate to preserve the subject matter of this
petition and prevent the 1st Respondent from foisting a fiat
accompli and state of hopelessness on the court and render
the election petition before the court nurgatory.
“The law is settled that once the question of the validity of
Election of any person is challenged as to whether he is
validly Elected or not, the person is not competent to take
office or assume the seat of power. See section 139 and
239 of the 1999 constitution, Nwobodo Vs. Onoh (1981),1
Sc p.97, and also Collins Obih V Sam Mbakwe (1984)
1SCNLR 192, 202 and 203.
“The Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria
prohibits and forbids that Nigeria or any part thereof be
governed or taken over by any person or group of persons
except in accordance with the provisions of the
constitution. See section 1(2) of the 1999 constitution, as
The petitioners, through their lawyer, Mr. Oliver Eya, noted
that pleadings have been concluded between parties in the
petition they lodged against the presidential election fixed
for pre-trial hearing session.
“Inspite of the pendency and scheduled hearing of this
petition over the invalidity of the questioned substituted
Presidential Election and return of the 1st Respondent of
February 23, 2019, for reason of non-compliance and
violation of the provisions of the Electoral Act 2010, the 1st
Respondent is frantically making preparation to be sworn in
and inaugurated on the 29th of May 2019, inviting the Chief
Justice of Nigeria and the public”, the petitioners added.
In a 21-paragraphed affidavit that was deposed to by one
Anwal Abdullahi, the petitioners insisted that the February
23 presidential poll was invalid for reason of non-
compliance with and violation of the Electoral Act involving
the undue postponement of election from February 16 that
it was previously slated for.
The petitioners alleged that INEC “self-sabotaged” itself
and shifted the election, thereby, “giving way for the
people’s controlled affirmative Referendum Election
validating the 1st Petitioner endorsed 50 million majority
They told the tribunal that President Buhari has continued
to make hasty preparations to be sworn in for a second
term, regardless of the unresolved question of the invalidity
of the election and return at the questioned substituted
election of February 23.
“The Petitioner/Applicants case remains that the 1st
Respondent could not have been declared and returned as
Elected and cannot be validly Elected or Returned in the
circumstances of an undue postponed Election and non-
compliance and violation with the provisions of the
Electoral Act and the 1999 constitution of the Federal
Republic of Nigeria.
“That if the 1st Respondent is sworn in on May 29, 2019,
he will take control of government of Nigeria and commence
to act as President, to the prejudice of the Petitioners/
Applicants and foist a fiat accompli on the court and render
nugatory its proceeding and outcome and unduly influence
the polity and undermine the authority of this honourable
“That the 1st Respondent will suffer no prejudice, damage
or irreparable loss if he is not sworn in until the conclusion
of the petition before this honourable court.
“That no amount of damages can compensate the
Petitioners/Applicants and the poor majority constituents
desirous of the validation of their affirmative Referendum as
held on the February 16th, 2019, scheduled Presidential
Election for a welfare state, to end poverty in the land in a
transitional government arrangement thereof.
“That the end of justice will be served in preserving the
status quo by restraining the 1st Respondent and
preventing the wastages and dangers in swearing in a
person whose election will be annulled”, the petitioners
Meantime, President Buhari, the APC and the INEC,
persuaded the five-member tribunal headed by President of
the Court of Appeal, Justice Zainab Bulkachuwa, for a short
adjournment to enable them to respond to all the issues
that were raised in the motion.
Before the matter was adjourned till May 22, President
Buhari, through his lead counsel, Chief Wole Olanipekun,
SAN, told the tribunal that he has filed a motion for the
HDP’s petition marked CA/ PEPC/001/2019, to be
dismissed for being grossly incompetent.
Olanipekun noted that the petitioners focused their case on
a referendum they claimed INEC conducted on February 23.
He said so far as his client was concerned, what held on
that date was a presidential election and not a referendum.
Meanwhile, when the matter was called up, the pioneer
Chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes
Commission, EFCC, Mr. Nuhu Ribadu, indicated that he was
in court to represent President Buhari in the gallery.