The court of Appeal sitting in Abuja has told The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) and the All Progressives Congress (APC) that they have till Thursday to file their responses to the election petition jointly filed by the Peoples Democratic Party and its presidential candidate, H.E. Alhaji Alhaji Atiku Abubakar GCON, challenging the outcome of the February 23 presidential election.
Atiku and the People’s democratic party (PDP), on March 18, 2019 filed the petition before the Presidential Election Petitions Tribunal, challenging the declaration of Buhari and the APC as the winner of the just concluded presidential election.
According to the petition they claim that contrary to INEC’s declaration, the PDP’s candidate was the valid winner of the 2019 presidential election.
INEC, Buhari and APC are the first to the third respondents to the petition, respectively.
As at the time of filing this report, Buhari, INEC and APC had not filed their responses to the petition.
Paragraph 10(2) of the Electoral Act, 2010 provides for a period of not more than 21 days within which a respondent must reply to an election petition from the date of being served with it.
The said Paragraph 10(2) provides, “The non-filling of a memorandum of appearance shall not bar the respondent from defending the election petition if the respondent files his reply to the election petition in the Registry within a reasonable time, but, in any case, not later than twenty-one (21) days from the receipt of the election petition.”
The petitioners served the petition on INEC and APC on March 22, but was unable to serve same on Buhari until they were able to obtain a March 27 order of the Court of Appeal in Abuja permitting them to serve the President through substituted means.
The registry of an election petitions tribunal opens on Saturdays and Sundays; so, there is no excuse for anyone not to meet the time limit.
The non-filing of a reply within time, simply means the respondent has no defence.”
There are now four petitions challenging APC’s victory at the presidential poll.
A legal practitioner, Mr Tunde Falola, said, “A respondent, who does not file his reply to the petition within time has no defence to the petition and he would be deemed to have accepted those allegations contained in the petition.”