A former Vice President and candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, Alhaji Atiku Abubakar, on Tuesday, said he was not worried that the President-elect, Asiwaju Bola Tinubu, would be sworn in on May 29, before the conclusion of petitions seeking to nullify his election victory.
Atiku, who is currently challenging the declaration of Tinubu of the ruling All Progressives Congress, APC, as winner of the presidential election that held on February 25, said he was hopeful that he would reclaim his mandate in court.
Speaking through his lead counsel, Chief Chris Uche, SAN, shortly after the Presidential Election Petition Court, PEPC, sitting in Abuja, consolidated his petition with the ones that were filed by candidate of the Labour Party, Mr. Peter Obi and the Allied Peoples Movement, APM, Atiku, maintained that the court, has the powers to sack Tinubu from office, even after the swearing in ceremony.
Noting that full blown hearing on the three merged petitions would commence on May 30, a day after Tinubu’s swearing in as President, the PDP candidate, through his team of f lawyers, said: “I have been asked about May 29, I want to assure people that swearing in is only a ceremony that does not in any way tie the hands of the court.
“The taking of oath binds the person who takes the oath and not the court
“The court has given you its timelines for parties to present their case. We are happy that with the development, the petitions will be expeditiously determined, ” Atiku’s lawyer, Uche, SAN, added.
It will be recalled that the Justice Haruna Tsammani-led five-member panel had during the presentation of its pre-hearing report on Tuesday, okayed Atiku’s request to be use three weeks to present evidence before the court, through 100 witnesses.
Atiku had in his joint petition with the PDP, marked: CA/PEPC/05/2023, maintained that the declaration of Tinubu as winner of the presidential election was “invalid by reason of non- compliance with the provisions of the Electoral Act, 2022”.
He argued that Tinubu’s election was invalid by reason of corrupt practices.
Aside from praying the court to declare him winner of the presidential election, having secured the second highest number of votes cast, Atiku and the PDP, applied for the withdrawal of the Certificate of Return that was already issued to Tinubu by the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC.
Meanwhile, the President-elect, Tinubu, has barred his legal team from speaking to newsmen throughout the duration hearing of the petitions seeking to invalidate his election victory.
The lead counsel that appeared for the APC at the resumed proceedings on Tuesday, Chief Niyi Akintola, SAN, made the disclosure in the open court after the panel gave a hint that it may ban both lawyers and members of the public from entering the courtroom with their mobile phones and other electronic gadgets.
Justice Tsammani said the decision was based on the need to enhance security within the courtroom and to protect the sanctity of the proceedings.
Responding, Chief Akintola, SAN, said: “My lords, that is why those of us that are representing the 2nd and 3rd respondents (Tinubu and APC), are acting on strict instructions.
“We have taken a decision not to talk to the press. We have 38 SANs in our team and my lords, in fact, the penalty for anyone that goes against the instruction and speaks to the press after every proceeding, is expulsion from the team,” he added.