President Muhammadu Buhari and the Attorney General of the Federation (AGF), Abubakar Malami yesterday shunned the hearing appeal filed by an Abuja-based lawyer, Ambrose Owuru seeking to among others stop the May 29 handover.
Buhari and Malami did not file any process and were not represented in court by any lawyer when the appeal, marked: CA/ABJ/CS/259/2023 was heard yesterday, reports The Nation.
The appeal by Owuru and his party – the Hope Democratic Party (HDP) is against the January 30 judgment by Justice Inyang Ekwo of the Federal High Court, Abuja which dismissed their suit in which Owuru had sought to be sworn in as Buhari’s successor.
Owuru claimed, among others, that he won a referendum allegedly conducted within the period of the postponement of the 2019 presidential election.
Owuru and the HDP had raised similar issues in the petition they filed against the 2019 presidential election, which petition was dismissed up to the Supreme Court on the grounds that the issue of the referendum did not form a ground to challenge the election.
While arguing the appeal yesterday, Owuru, who appeared for himself, said the substance of his case was never determined up to the Supreme Court.
Owuru urged the court to dispassionately consider his case, preserve his right to be accorded the first right of refusal to the office of the President, and allow the appeal by setting aside the judgment of the Federal High Court.
Lawyer to the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), Hassan Aliyu described the appeal as a waste of the court’s precious time, adding that the appeal was without merit.
Aliyu prayed the court to dismiss it.
Lawyer to the President-elect, Bola Tinubu, Adelani Ajibade, from Chief Wole Olanipekun’s law firm, urged the court to dismiss the appeal and award N20 million cost against the appellants.
Ajibade argued that Owuru and his party do not have any subsisting right over any electoral victory which they sought to exercise through the appeal.
He added: “The appellants have no right to be preserved. The purported right they claim to possess has been extinguished by the Supreme Court in a decision as far back as 2019 in appeal number: SC/1110/2019.”
Ajibade tendered a certified true copy (CTC) of the judgment delivered by the Supreme Court on October 3, 2019 in which the apex court upheld the judgment of the Court of Appeal, delivered in respect of the petition Owuru and his party filed against the 2019 presidential election.
A three-member panel of the Court of Appeal, led by Justice Jamil Tukur, after hearing the lawyers, announced that the judgment had been reserved, to be delivered on a date to be communicated to parties.
Earlier before the hearing of the appeal, Owuru, who claimed to have been an old lawyer and sat on the front row, was ordered to vacate the seat which is usually reserved for only Senior Advocates.
While asking him to vacate the seat, one of the panel members said: “Even if you are as old as Methuselah, once you are not a Senior Advocate, you have no place at the Inner Bar.”
Owuru, who said he was called to the Bar in 1982, apologised to the court as he stood up and relocated to the second row.