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Court Reserves Judgement on Atiku’s Petition Against Tinubu and INEC

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The Presidential Election Petition Court (PEPC), sitting in Abuja, has reserved its judgement on the petition filed by a former Vice President and candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, Alhaji Atiku Abubakar, to nullify the February 25 election victory of President Bola Tinubu of the All Progressives Congress (APC). 

The Justice Haruna Tsammani-led five-member panel on Tuesday, August 1, 2023, okayed the matter for judgement after all the parties adopted their final briefs of argument.

While adopting their final written address, Atiku and the PDP, through their team of lawyers led by Chief Chris Uche, SAN, urged the court to declare that President Tinubu was not qualified to contest the presidential poll that was held on February 25.

Alternatively, the Petitioners urged the court to nullify the entire outcome of the presidential election and order a re-run or fresh contest.

Atiku and his party alleged that the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, despite receiving over N355 Billion for the conduct of the election, deliberately bypassed all the technological innovations it introduced for the 2023 general elections.

They contended that INEC acted in breach of the amended Electoral Act when it refused to electronically transmit the results of the presidential election.

“On the issue of transmission of election results based on new provisions in the Electoral Act, we are all in agreement, including the INEC, that there is a new regime in election management.

“The essence of the innovation was to enhance transparency in the collation of results, which was an area where we usually had problems and not the actual election, and secondly, to enhance the integrity of the result declared.

“We agree that INEC had an option and we brought a video evidence by INEC Chairman showing that the electoral body indeed chose an option.

“It is our contention and it is here in evidence that witnesses admitted that results from the National Assembly election were transmitted but that of the presidential election was not.

“A whopping N355bn was deployed for the election, therefore, INEC owes this court and the nation an explanation.

“It is our submission that there was no technical glitch on the election day, rather, there was a deliberate bypass of the technology to create room for the manipulation that eventually took place.

“Until the court makes a judicial pronouncement, there may not be compliance to express provisions of the new regime of the Electoral Act.

“My lords, in a situation like this, the burden shifts on INEC to explain. It is not on the Petitioner to explain why there was such a technical glitch.

“We urge this court to hold that there was deliberate non-compliance. The substantiality of the non-compliance lies in the national spread of the non-transmission of results. It was national and not limited to certain polling units,” Uche, SAN, added.

However, all the Respondents- INEC, President Tinubu and the All Progressives Congress, APC- through their respective lawyers, prayed the court to dismiss the petition as grossly lacking in merit.

INEC, through its legal team led by Mr. Abubakar Mahmoud, SAN, maintained that the presidential election was not only validly conducted but done in substantial compliance with all the relevant laws.

Likewise, President Tinubu’s team, led by Chief Wole Olanipekun, SAN, argued that the petitioners failed to establish why the presidential election should be nullified.

Insisting that he was duly elected with a majority of valid votes that were cast during the election, President Tinubu, urged the court to dismiss Atiku’s petition.

On its part, the APC, represented by Prince Lateef Fagbemi, SAN, equally prayed the court to dismiss the petition for want of merit.

After it had listened to all the parties, the Justice Tsammani-led panel adjourned the matter for judgement.

The court said it would communicate the judgement date to all the parties.

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