The Presidential Election Petition Tribunal in Abuja on Thursday dismissed an application seeking to withdraw the Peoples Democratic Movement as a party to a petition challenging the outcome of the February 23, 2019 presidential election.
The Justice Mohammed Garba-led tribunal of five judges said the application was incompetent having been filed outside the period of the pre-hearing court session on the petition.
Justice Garba who read the lead ruling held that the pre-hearing session ended on June 27, 2019 but the application was filed on July 9.
He held that the pre-conditions for the hearing of such application outside the pre-hearing session as provided in Paragraph 47(1) of the First Schedule to the Electoral Act were not met.
The election petition filed jointly in the names of the party and its presidential candidate, Pastor Aminchi Habu, seeks the nullification of the February 23, 2019 presidential election on the grounds of their alleged wrongful exclusion from the poll by the Independent National Electoral Commission.
The respondents to the petition are the INEC, Buhari and the All Progressives Congress.
But the National Chairman of the party, Chief Frank Igwebuike, had in the name of the party, applied to the tribunal for the withdrawal of the party from the petition.
In a motion filed before the five-man tribunal on July 9, the PDM National Chairman stated that the party had “in its wisdom re-evaluated the probability of the petition succeeding and decided to withdraw from the petition”.
The application was anchored on a certain March 5, 2019 letter credited to the Independent National Electoral Commission acknowledging the party’s list of candidates submitted for the 2019 general elections but informing the party that “the period of submission of candidates has passed”.
But the PDM’s presidential candidate, Habu, and some other members of the National Working Committee have opposed Igwebuike’s application, insisting that the party would prosecute the case to the end.