INEC fails to open defence against Obi’s petition

THE Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) on Monday, July 3, failed to open its defence against the petition filed by Labour Party (LP) candidate, Peter Obi, at the Presidential Election Petition Court.

The petition is challenging the outcome of the February 25 presidential election.

The Tribunal presided over by Haruna Tsammani, had previously ordered INEC to open its defense on July 3, subsequent to the conclusion of cases presented by the Allied Peoples Movement (APM), the LP, and the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP).

However, at resumption of hearing on Monday, INEC’s counsel, Abubakar Mahmoud, a Senior Advocate of Nigeria (SAN), informed the court that the the Commission’s first witness could not attend due to family issues.

He requested an adjournment until the following day to allow the witness to be present.

Following the development, the Tribunal adjourned the petition to Tuesday, July 4, for further hearing.

Speaking to journalists shortly after the adjournment, LP lawyer Levi Uzoukwu, a Senior Advocate of Nigeria (SAN), claimed that INEC was unprepared to defend its case before the tribunal.

He asserted that his camp had a strong case and was fully prepared to proceed, unlike INEC, which he said had displayed a consistent lack of preparedness.

“Given the contradictions and inconsistencies and what INEC has done; I’m sure they are not ready to defend this case,” he said.

“I stand to be proven wrong, but I would wish that they defend this matter so that the public will see more of what happened to this election.”

Uzoukwu emphasised that the decision to call witnesses rested with INEC, and he and his client, the LP, were ready to proceed at any time.

Obi had closed his case at the Tribunal after calling 13 witnesses to prove his allegation that the election was rigged.

He had proposed to call 50 witnesses but could only call 13 within the court allotted time. He also tendered tons of electoral documents.

INEC had declared Tinubu as the winner of the February 25 presidential election.

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 come third.

Displeased with the results, Obi, and his party filed a petition at the court to challenge Tinubu’s victory.

In their petition, Obi and the LP argued that when Tinubu’s running mate, Kashim Shettima, became the vice presidential candidate, he was still nominated as the APC candidate for the Borno Central Senatorial election.

They also challenged Tinubu’s eligibility, alleging that he was previously indicted and fined $460,000.00 by a United States District Court for an offence involving dishonesty and drug trafficking.

Obi claimed that the election was invalid due to corrupt practices and non-compliance with the provisions of the Electoral Act, 2022.






     

     

    He argued that INEC breached its regulations and guidelines by not prescribing and deploying technological devices for voter accreditation, verification, continuation, and authentication as required.

    The petitioner sought a declaration from the court that Tinubu was not qualified to contest the election and that all votes recorded for him were wasted.

    He also requested the court to determine that he received a majority of lawful votes and satisfied constitutional requirements to be declared the winner.

    In the alternative, he called for the cancellation of the election and the conduct of a fresh election in which Tinubu, Shettima, and the APC would not participate.

    You can reach out to me on Twitter via: vincent_ufuoma

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