THE Presidential Election Petition Tribunal (PEPT) has decided all petitions filed by Peter Obi of the Labour Party (LP) against the February 25 presidential election winner, Bola Tinubu, in Tinubu’s favour.
The court declared that Obi’s petition lacked merit.
The election saw the emergence of Tinubu of the All Progressive Congress (APC) as the nation’s president.
The three major contestants in the election are Tinubu, Labour Party (LP) candidate Peter Obi and the candidate of the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) Abubakar Atiku.
Haruna Tsammani heads the five-man panel; other members are Stephen Adah, Monsurat Bolaji-Yusuf, Moses Ugo and Abba Mohammed.
In its judgement read by a panel member, Abba Mohammed, the panel said the petitioners only made “generic accusations of irregularities” in the election but failed to specify the anomaly, the places where it occurred and those affected.
“They failed to state the number of votes affected and the number of people disenfranchised,” says Mohammed.
The Court said that although Obi and LP claimed to have scored the majority of lawful votes cast, they failed to state the number of lawful votes they scored.
“The law is very clear that where someone alleged irregularities in a particular polling unit, such person must prove the particular irregularities in that polling unit for him to succeed in his petition.
“The determination of election is about figures,” the Court held.
Regarding Obi’s membership in the LP, which the respondents disputed on the grounds that Obi was still a PDP member as of the time of his nomination, the Court stated that LP and Obi certified the terms of Obi’s membership.
According to the Court, the request to reject Obi as a member of LP is no longer valid.
Tsammani has now continued the reading of the judgement.
The Judge struck out ten LP witnesses’ statements on technical grounds.
Tsammani said the statements made on oath and exhibit tendered through them are inadmissible and invalid.
Regarding the compulsory 25% in the FCT, Tsammani said Abuja is on par with every other state in Nigeria, and there are no special voters anywhere in the country.
The Tribunal added that the petitioners’ interpretation of Section 134(2)(b) of the 1999 constitution is “completely fallacious — if not outrightly ridiculous”.
On the alleged forfeiture of $460,000 and drug trafficking indictment by Tinubu in the United States, the Court overruled the argument that sought to have the documents submitted by Obi/LP struck out.
On the drug matter, the Court said, “The Nigeria Police, through its IGP, had written to the US to confirm the criminal status of Bola Tinubu, and the US government had replied in 2003 stating that Bola Tinubu had no criminal records in the US. Therefore, the Court admits this evidence.”
The Judge ruled that the sentence of crime for any offence involving dishonesty or fraud from section 37(d) has to be a criminal offence, and LP failed to supply evidence that forfeiture is criminal while the respondents proved it was not criminal.
The PEPC, in its judgement, claimed Obi’s case lacks merit and lacks the burden of proof.
“From the foregoing, it is clearly evident that the petitioners have failed to discard the burden of proof placed on them by law.
“They have failed to prove any of the three grounds contained in paragraph 20 of this petition,” the Judge stated.
The judge added that the petitioners have been unable to provide credible and acceptable evidence.
The panel, after that, resolved all issues against the petitioners.
“All issues in this this petition are resolved against the petitioners,” the judge said
This court described the petition as clearly “unmeritorious.”
According to INEC, Tinubu secured 8,794,726 votes to come first, Atiku Abubakar of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) finished second with 6,984,520, while Obi polled 6,101,533 to go third.
The tension that followed the announcement of the result was very high.
The APC, which won the poll, has continued to hold that Tinubu’s victory was valid and that the election was free and fair.
In his petition before the Court, Obi stated that there was rigging in 11 states, and he promised to prove it based on the uploaded results.
Obi further claimed that Tinubu “was not duly elected by a majority of the lawful votes cast at the time of the election”.
Parts of the petition read, “The petitioners shall show that in the computation and declaration of the result of the election, based on the updated results, the votes recorded for the second respondent (Tinubu) did not comply with the legitimate process for the computation of the result and disfavoured the petitioners in the following states: Rivers, Lagos, Taraba, Benue, Adamawa, Imo, Bauchi, Borno, Kaduna, Plateau and other states of the federation.”
Obi and the LP said since all polling unit results had yet to be thoroughly scanned, uploaded, and transferred electronically as required by the Electoral Act at the time of the declaration, INEC broke its own rules when it announced the result.
The petitioners also urged the Tribunal to “determine that, at the time of the presidential election held on February 25, 2023, the second and third respondents (Tinubu and Shettima) were not qualified to contest the election.
“That it be determined that all the votes recorded for the second respondent in the election are wasted votes, owing to the non-qualification of the second and third respondents.
“That it be determined that the second respondent (Tinubu), having failed to score one-quarter of the votes cast at the presidential election in the Federal Capital Territory, Abuja, was not entitled to be declared and returned as the winner of the presidential election held on February 25, 2023.
“That it be determined that based on the remaining votes (after discountenancing the votes credited to the second respondent), the first petitioner (Obi) scored a majority of the lawful votes cast at the election and had not less than 25 per cent of the votes cast in each of at least two-thirds of the states of the federation and the Federal Capital Territory, Abuja and satisfied the constitutional requirements to be declared the winner of the February 25, 2023, presidential election.”
In addition, the petitioners request that the tribunal issue a ruling ordering INEC to hold a new election in which Tinubu, Shettima, and the APC shall not run.
A reporter with the ICIR
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