The Hope Democratic Party (HDP) has filed a motion before the Presidential Election Petitions Tribunal to restrain President Muhammadu Buhari from being sworn in for a second term on May 29, 2019.

The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) declared the 76-year-old winner of the February 23 presidential election with a total of 15,191,847 votes.

However, the HDP and its presidential candidate, Ambrose Oworu, filed a petition before the tribunal to nullify the election on the grounds of INEC's non-compliance with the provisions of the Electoral Act. 

In a motion heard by the tribunal on Tuesday, May 14, the party argued that Buhari's apparent plans to get himself inaugurated for a second term despite the pending case will render its petition meaningless.

The motion, filed on six grounds, further sought to restrain the Chief Justice of Nigeria from swearing in, administering the oath of office and oath of allegiance to the president.

The party argued that, according to the law, once a question of the validity of an election of any person is challenged, that person is not competent to take oath of office or assume power.

The petitioners urged the court to halt Buhari's inauguration until the hearing and determination of their petition.

The respondents to the suit are President Buhari, INEC and the president's ruling All Progressives Congress (APC).

The five-member tribunal panel, headed by Justice Zainab Bulkachuwa, adjourned hearing of the petition till May 22 to give respondents appropriate time to respond.

There are two other petitions before the tribunal contesting Buhari's victory in the February 23 election.

The National Rescue Movement (NRM) and its presidential candidate, Usman Ibrahim-Alhaji, have asked the tribunal to nullify Buhari's participation in the election for allegedly violating the Electoral Act by spending over N1 billion as campaign expenses.

The aggrieved parties also sought the disqualification of Atiku Abubakar, the candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), for the same offence.

Atiku and the PDP also have a separate petition filed before the tribunal against Buhari's victory.

Atiku vs Buhari

PDP presidential candidate , Atiku Abubakar and President Muhammadu Buhari [BBC]
PDP presidential candidate , Atiku Abubakar and President Muhammadu Buhari [BBC]

INEC crowned Buhari winner of the February 23 election with 15,191,847 of the total votes cast while Atiku gained 11,262,978 votes.

However, in a petition filed before the tribunal, Atiku claimed that he actually won the election with 1.6 million more votes than Buhari according to an internal compilation of results he claimed was obtained from INEC's server.

According to the result obtained from the INEC server as claimed by Atiku in his petition, the former vice president actually scored 18,356,732 votes while Buhari scored 16,741,430 votes. This does not include results from Rivers State which had allegedly not been transmitted at the time Atiku claims the data was captured.

While filing its response before the tribunal on April 11, INEC accused Atiku and the PDP of producing fake election results to prove their case.

"INEC specifically denies the existence of electronic transmission of results and it is unknown to the Electoral Act 2010 (as amended)," the commission noted in its response.

Atiku also accused Buhari of not possessing the educational qualification to contest, alleging that he submitted false academic documents to INEC to aid his qualification.

In their counter to Atiku's petition, Buhari and the APC said the former vice president is not qualified to contest for the presidency because he was born in Adamawa State at a time when it was Northern Cameroon before it voted during a 1961 referendum to align with Nigeria.

The pre-hearing session of PDP's petition will commence on May 15.