Election Petitions: Tinubu triumphs as Tribunal dismisses Obi, Atiku petitions

· Says Obi, LP failed to prove election rigging allegations

· · ‘No evidence Tinubu was convicted in US over drug charges’

· ‘Atiku’s petition against Tinubu over dual citizenship, drug case holds no ground’

The Presidential Election Petitions Tribunal on Wednesday dismissed the petitions filed by the Labour Party (LP) and its presidential candidate, Peter Obi, and that of his Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) counterpart Atiku Abubakar, rejecting the declaration of President Bola Tinubu as the winner of the February 25 presidential election by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC).

Recall that the LP and PDP and their candidates had petitioned the tribunal, rejecting the outcome of the election.

The Labour Party had asked the tribunal to nullify Tinubu’s election, arguing, among other things, that the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) failed to follow the provisions of the 2022 Electoral Act as amended in declaring the results.

Recall that INEC, in several assurances to the Nigerian electorate, said it would transmit election results electronically, from the polling units to the Commission’s result viewing portal, IReV.

This could not, however, take place as the commission only uploaded the results of the National Assembly election to the IReV, while it failed to do the same for the presidential election results.

The Labour Party also asked the court to disqualify Tinubu from the election, arguing that he was convicted of drug peddling in the United States of America in a case where he was alleged to have forfeited about $460,000 of drug money to the US government.

The further alleged irregularities in favour of the APC and its candidate in the election

In a delivery judgment on the matter, the leader of the five-man tribunal, Justice Haruna Tsamanni, dismissed all the claims of the Labour Party and its presidential candidate.

The tribunal, which started by rejecting 10 out of the 13 witnesses presented by the petitioner, said Obi called 13 witnesses, who testified as PW1 to PW13, noting that of the 13 witnesses, only three witnesses whose statements are on oath were filed along with the petition.

The Justice, who examined further and found that the other 10 witnesses were subpoenaed, added that their witness statements on oath were only filed after the hearing started.

Justice Tsammani held that by virtue of Section 285 of the Nigerian Constitution, Section 137(7) of the Electoral Act 2022, and other provisions, every witness statement on oath must be filed along with the petition.

He said that based on the authority of the Supreme Court, once the 21-day window for filing an election petition elapses, the content of the petition cannot be amended.

The Justice stated further that no additional statement on oath can be filed after the close of the specified window since the respondents would not have the opportunity to respond.

Tsammani said the petitioners were aware of the legal provision relating to the filing of witness statements on oath, yet went ahead to present 10 witnesses without their witness statements on oath earlier filed with the petition.

Rejects EU Observers Reports

The Tribunal further rejected a copy of the report of the European Union election observers group, which alleged that the election was marred by many irregularities, as rendered before it by Obi and the Labour Party (LP).

The court, while rejecting the reports, held that the document was obtained by the petitioners from its registry, which was certified by its staff, who is not a person with original custody of the document that was produced by the EU mission.

This is as the court similarly rejected the 18088 blurred results sheets tendered by the petitioners, saying that they were not tied to any polling units to which the results related, which the petitioners failed to specify in their petition.

No evidence Tinubu was convicted of drug case

The Presidential Election Petition Court, in the same vein, dismissed claims by the Labour Party and its candidate that the presidential candidate of the APC, President Bola Tinubu, was convicted in the United States of America, USA, on a drug trafficking-related charge.

The court, however, held that evidence before it established that the $460, 000 fine that was imposed on Tinubu in the US was a civil matter.

It held that such a fine did not translate to a criminal conviction that was capable of warranting Tibubu’s disqualification from contesting the presidential election that was held on February 25.

Justice Haruna Tsammani held that a careful perusal of exhibits that were adduced before the court showed that the case that led to the fine that was awarded against President Tinubu “was in the civil docket” of the court in the US.

He held that contrary to the contention of the petitioners, the case was a civil forfeiture proceeding against funds that were in the bank and not an action that was against Tinubu as a person.

He maintained that such a civil forfeiture proceeding is a unique remedy that is targeted at a property and not the owner.

More so, the court held that Obi and the LP failed to show that Tinubu was indicted, arraigned, tried, or convicted for any criminal offence in the USA.

The court further noted that following a letter the Inspector General of Police wrote in 2003, the American Embassy confirmed that there was no criminal record against Tinubu in its centralized information center.

The Presidential Election Petitions Court further cleared the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) from committing any legal offence in its choice of announcing the results of the presidential election.

Justice Tsamanni ruled that the commission was at liberty to decide the mode of transmission of election results during the presidential election on February 25, 2023.

The panel said that according to Sections 52 and 65 of the Electoral Act 2022, INEC was at liberty to prescribe the manner in which election results were transmitted during the poll.

The Tribunal consequently dismissed the petition of the Labour Party (LP) and its presidential candidate, Peter Obi, which argued that the victory of President Bola Tinubu of the All Progressives Congress (APC) be annulled on the basis of the “failure” of the commission’s Results Viewing Portal (IReV) to upload election results electronically in real time.

The Tribunal similarly dismissed Obi and LP’s petitions based on the 25 percent votes of Tinubu in the Federal Capital Territory (FCT), saying that Abuja is like other states.

Earlier in its preliminary judgement, the court dismissed the allegation by the Labour Party, LP, and its candidate, Mr. Peter Obi, that the 2023 presidential election was rigged in favour of President Bola Tinubu.

The court, in its ruling, which was delivered by Justice Abba Mohammed, held that Obi and the LP did not, by way of credible evidence, establish their allegation that the election that was held on February 25 was characterized by manifest corrupt practices.

It held that though the petitioners alleged that the election was marred by irregularities, they, however, failed to give specific details of where the alleged infractions took place.

The court noted that whereas Obi and the LP insisted that the election was rigged in 18, 088 polling units across the federation, they were unable to state the locations of the said polling units.

It further held that Obi’s allegation that fictitious results were recorded to President Tinubu and the APC by the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, was not proved, adding that the petitioners were unable to state the figures they claimed were reduced from the election results they garnered in different states of the federation, especially in Ondo, Oyo, Rivers, Yobe, Borno, Tabara, Osun, and Lagos State.

It similarly held that the petitioners equally failed to state the polling units where over-voting occurred or the exact figures of unlawful votes that were credited to Tinubu by the INEC.

Justice Abba Mohammed further stressed that though Obi and LP said they would rely on spreadsheets as well as forensic reports and expert analysis of their expert witnesses, they failed to attach the documents to the petition or serve the same on the respondents as required by the law.

It held that several portions of the petition that contained the allegations were “vague, imprecise, nebulous, and bereft of particular materials.”

The Tribunal therefore struck out paragraphs 9, 60, 61, 66, 67, 68, 69, 70, 71, 72, 73, 76, 77, 78, 83, and 89 of the petitions.

PEPC dismisses Atiku’s petition against Tinubu over dual citizenship, drug case

Also, the Presidential Election Petitions Court, PEPC, has, yesterday, dismissed the ground of the presidential candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Atiku Abubakar, alleging dual citizenship and drug conviction against President Bola Tinubu.

In a judgment on the objections of the All Progressives Congress (APC) and Tinubu grounds that the issues bordering on his non-qualification to contest the February 25 presidential election, Justice Moses Ugo held that the grounds were new issues.

He upheld the objections of the APC and Tinubu that the Atiku and PDP could not smuggle new issues not pleaded in their petition on the grounds of non-qualification.

Atiku had in his reply to Tinubu challenging submitted that he was constitutionally disabled from contesting for the office of President of Federal Republic of Nigeria because he forfeited the sum of $460,000 in a compromise agreement for narcotics related crime (proceeds of crime) in the United States District Court, Northern District of Illinois Eastern Division.

Atiku also claimed that Tinubu failed to disclose in his form EC9 that he holds dual citizenship of Nigeria and Guinea, having voluntarily acquired the citizenship of the Republic of Guinea.

See also Breaking:Tribunal validates house of rep member's election in Borno

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