Tuesday, April 16, 2024

Tribunal reserves judgment in Obi, Labour Party’s petition against Tinubu

The five-member panel presided over by Justice Haruna Tsammani reserved judgment to a date that will be communicated to parties after parties adopted their final written addresses.

• August 1, 2023
Peter Obi and President Bola Tinubu
Peter Obi and President Bola Tinubu

On Tuesday, the Presidential Election Petition Court reserved judgment in a petition filed by Peter Obi and the Labour Party (LP) challenging the election of President Bola Tinubu into power.

Mr Obi and LP are petitioners in the CA/PEPC/03/2023 petition, challenging the election that brought Mr Tinubu into power.

Respondents are the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), Mr Tinubu, Vice President Kashim Shettima, and the All Progressives Congress (APC).

The five-member panel presided over by Justice Haruna Tsammani reserved judgment to a date that will be communicated to parties after parties adopted their final written addresses.

Following the closing of the cases of the respondents on July 5, time was given to parties to file their written addresses.

Adopting their final written addresses filed on July 14, Abubakar Mahmoud, SAN, lead counsel for INEC, urged the court to uphold their objections and take the petition as lacking in merit and should be dismissed.

Mr Mahmoud said five issues are listed but would speak on two. One was the noncompliance and the conduct of the election conducted by INEC.

According to him, all revolved around the use of technology, and the petitioners’ misunderstanding of what was used, that is, the Bimodal Voter Accreditation System (BVAS) and IreV portal.

He argued that the evidence before the court showed clearly that the first respondent ensured technology was deployed for the election.

The senior lawyer said the two points of disagreement were the contrivance in the minds of the petitioners that electronic collation of the results manually system was carried out.

He added that the petitioners failed to present evidence to support their allegation on electronic collation of any election results.

Mr Mahmoud argued further that the petitioners alleged that the glitches during the election were orchestrated to manipulate the election result.

Similarly, Wole Olanipekun, counsel for Messrs Tinubu and Shettima, urged the court to dismiss the petition for lacking merit.

He said before the law, the petitioners had abandoned their petition, adding that he would look at three areas.

He argued that noncompliance is one area where results have not been electronically uploaded to IreV and are not part of the collation system.

He added that all collation was done physically.

For the 25 per cent votes of the FCT, he argued that Mr Tinubu secured two-thirds votes adding Mr Obi does not have locus standi for a rerun election because he was not the first runner-up.

He further said there is no connectivity between the petitioners and the petition.

Counsel for APC, Lateef Fagbemi, SAN, aligned with the submissions of Messrs Mahmoud and Olanipekun. However, he said the petition is ambitious.

He added that the petitioners did not dispute that voting occurred and results were announced.

Mr Fagbemi argued that evidence must be given from every polling unit to dispute the results.

He argued further on FCT 25 per cent votes and qualification of candidates.

Responding, Livy Uzoukwu, SAN counsel for the petitioners, argued that the respondents have laboured in vain to understand the importance of IreV.

He added that their witness told the court during his evidence how important the IreV is.

He said the election could not be said to be credible if INEC could give a certified true copy (CTC) of 8,123 blurred result sheets.

He added some blank and others with picture images, adding that the CTC of documents should be a replica of the original copy.

He argued that there were no glitches, as claimed by the respondents.

Mr Uzoukwu submitted that the petitioners had proved their petition, particularly in the allegations of noncompliance. 


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