APC asks tribunal to dismiss LP’s petition against Tinubu’s victory

THE All Progressives Congress (APC) has responded to the petition filed by the Labour Party (LP) to challenge the outcome of the February 25 presidential election.

The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) declared APC candidate Bola Tinubu winner of the poll, and he is set to be sworn in as Nigeria’s next President on May 29.

However, some opposition parties have filed petitions against Tinubu’s victory. The LP in it’s petition asked the tribunal to nullify Tinubu’s election and declare it’s candidate Peter Obi winner of the poll.

In a counter motion, dated April 10, the APC asked the tribunal to dismiss the petition filed by the LP and its presidential candidate, Obi, against Tinubu’s emergence as the President-elect.

In a notice of preliminary objection numbered CA/PEPC/03/2023 and submitted to the Presidential Election Petition Court (PEPC) Secretariat by Thomas Ojo, a member of the party’s legal team in Abuja, the APC urged the tribunal to reject the LP petition.

According to the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN), the APC urged the tribunal to dismiss the plea with high costs since it was frivolous and without merit.

Obi and LP had sued the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), Tinubu, Kashim Shettima and APC as 1st to 4th respondents, respectively.

Obi and his party, in their petition, are seeking the nullification of the election victory of Tinubu and Shettima in the February 25 presidential poll.

The petitioners, through their lawyers, claimed there was rigging and also contended that INEC violated its own regulations when it announced the result even though at the time of the announcement, the totality of the polling unit results had yet to be entirely scanned, uploaded and transmitted electronically as required by the Electoral Act.

Among other prayers, the LP urged the tribunal “To determine that, at the time of the presidential election held on February 25, 2023, the 2nd and 3rd respondents (Tinubu and Shettima) were not qualified to contest the election.

“That it be determined that all the votes recorded for the 2nd respondent in the election are wasted votes, owing to the non-qualification of the 2nd and 3rd respondents.

“That it be determined that based on the remaining votes (after discountenancing the votes credited to the 2nd respondent), the 1st 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 FCT and satisfied the constitutional requirements to be declared the winner of the February 25 Presidential Election.

“That it be determined that the 2nd respondent (Tinubu), having failed to score one-quarter of the votes cast at the presidential election in the FCT, was not entitled to be declared and returned as the winner of the presidential election held on February 25.”

The APC, in its response, requested that the lawsuit be dismissed because the first petitioner, Obi, had the necessary “locus standi” to file the case because he was not a member of the LP at least 30 days prior to the party’s presidential primary to be legally sponsored by the party.

“The 1st petitioner (Obi) was a member of PDP until May 24, 2022. 1st petitioner was screened as a presidential aspirant of the PDP in April 2022.

“1st petitioner participated and was cleared to contest the presidential election while being a member of the PDP.

“1st petitioner purportedly resigned his membership of PDP on May 24, 2022, to purportedly join the 2nd petitioner (Labour Party) on May 27, 2022.

“2nd petitioner conducted its presidential primary on May 30, 2022, which purportedly produced 1st petitioner as its candidate, which time contravened Section 77(3) of the Electoral Act for him to contest the primary election as a member of the 2nd petitioner,” the APC stated.

The APC argued that “by the mandatory provisions of sections 77 (1) (2) and (3) of the Electoral Act 2022, a political party shall maintain a register and shall make such register available to INEC not later than 30 days before the date fixed for the party primaries, congresses and convention”.

It stated further that all the PDP’s presidential candidates were screened on April 29, an exercise Obi participated in and was cleared to contest while being a member of the party.

It argued that the petition was incompetent since Obi’s name could not have been in LP’s register made available to INEC when he joined the party.

The APC argued that PDP and Atiku Abubakar, who were required parties to be impacted by the remedy sought, were not joined in the suit and claimed that, as a result, the petition was unlawfully constituted.

“At Paragraph 102 (ii) of the petition, the petitioners urged the tribunal to determine that 1st petitioner scored the majority of lawful votes without joining Alhaji Atiku Abubakar in the petition.

“For the tribunal to grant prayer (iii) of the petitioners, the tribunal must have set aside the scores and election of Alhaji Atiku Abubakar.”

The APC argued that Atiku must be heard before the tribunal can discountenance his votes.






     

     

    It also said that the claims of non-compliance had to be made with clarity and supported by evidence based on each polling place; however, none of these requirements was mentioned or provided in any of the petition’s paragraphs.

    As a result, the party asserted, among other things, that the tribunal lacked the necessary authority to hear the pre-election objections included in the petition as it was written.

    The Chairman of INEC, Mahmood Yakubu, announced the result of the election on March 1.

    According to the result released by INEC, Tinubu scored a total of 8,794,726 votes to defeat Atiku of the PDP, who polled a total of 6,984,520 votes, and Obi of the LP, who came third with 6,101,533 votes.

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