The All Progressives Congress (APC) Thursday asked the Presidential Election Petition Tribunal sitting in Abuja, to strike out the petition by the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and its presidential candidate, Alhaji Atiku Abubakar, against the election of President Muhammadu Buhari.
It said the petition was defective, ab initio, because the former vice-president and PDP candidate “is not a Nigerian by birth.”
Atiku and the PDP had in the petition, urged the tribunal to declare him as the lawful winner of the February 23, 2019 presidential election.
Counsel to the APC, Mr. Lateef Fagbemi (SAN), called on the tribunal to declare Atiku ineligible to run for the presidency while responding to the petitioners’ motion seeking the striking out of APC’s reply to the petition.
He said: “My Lord, I am opposing this application on the qualification of the first petitioner (Abubakar). I am standing by the proof we have supplied in our reply.
“The candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party in the February 23 presidential election was not qualified to contest the election in the first place.
“I therefore, pray the tribunal to strike out the petitioners’ application for lacking in competence and merit.’’
The APC, which is the third respondent in the petition, reiterated its submission that Atiku was not a citizen of Nigeria by birth and ought not to have even been allowed in the first place to contest the election.
Counsel for the petitioners, Mr. Chris Uche (SAN), argued that historic records showed that the former vice-president was a citizen of Nigeria by birth.
He, therefore, urged the panel to disregard Fagbemi’s submission by granting the application.
Also Thursday, the tribunal reserved ruling on the application filed by the PDP and Atiku for access to inspect the server and data of smart card readers used by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) in the conduct of the February 23 presidential election.
Justice Mohammed Garba, who chairs the five-member tribunal, reserved date for ruling in the application shortly after counsel in the matter adopted and argued their briefs of argument in the suit.
Garba said the panel would communicate the date of the ruling to the counsel once they were ready.
In moving the motion for inspection of the INEC server and other electoral materials, one of the lead counsel to Atiku and the PDP, Uche, said the request was essential to their petition challenging the return of Buhari in the election.