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PDP petition: Party forgets to include votes of other contestants in its ‘total accredited votes’

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THE People’s Democratic Party, PDP, has got its arithmetic wrong in the petition it filed against the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) and All Progressives Congress (APC), The ICIR can report.

Filed on Monday before the Presidential Election Petitions Tribunal, the petition states that data from INEC’s server shows the PDP was victorious in the just-concluded presidential election with a margin of 1.6 million votes.

The grounds for the petition, the documents state, include that the APC candidate, Muhammadu Buhari, was not duly elected by the majority of lawful votes cast, that non-compliance with the Electoral Act invalidates the election, that Buhari was not qualified to contest because he had submitted an affidavit to INEC containing false information, and that the election was marred by corrupt practices.

There are, however, irreconcilable flaws in the figures provided in the document, a copy of which was obtained and perused by The ICIR.

The petitioners noted that, according to the INEC, the total number of accredited voters was 29,364,209, total number of votes cast was 28,614,188, total number of valid votes was 27,324,581, and total number of rejected votes was 1,289,607.

They also agreed with INEC that the total votes polled by the presidential candidates of the other 71 political parties was 869,758.

“Upon a proper collation and summation”, the total number of votes got by the parties was 869,758, item 24 of the petition stated.

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But the party went on to state that, based on its findings from INEC’s server, including data from all states except Rivers, the “actual” total number of accredited voters is 35,098,162.

The claim was made on page 9 as well as page 14, where it stated that “whereas the actual number of voters accredited at the election was 35,098,162, the 1st Respondent wrongly suppressed and/or reduced the number of accredited voters to 29,394,209 [sic.] to the detriment of the Petitioners.”

This figure, The ICIR however observes, is merely the addition of the total number of votes polled by the PDP candidate, Atiku Abubakar (18,356,732) and those polled by Buhari (16,741,430).

It does not take into account the almost 870,000 votes counted for other political parties.

This, in other words, means the total number of valid votes, which is 35,967,920 (if we sum up all the “correct and proper scores” of all 73 candidates stated on the petition’s fourth table), is more than the total number of accredited votes, earlier confirmed by PDP.

It further suggests that no votes were rejected or nullified by the electoral commission—a very unlikely incident, and that all the accredited voters eventually voted.

When this observation was brought to the attention of Kola Ologbondiyan, PDP’s national publicity secretary, he promised to “compare notes with the legal department” and get back to us. He has, however, not done so at the time of filing this report.

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Calls placed to his phone number hours after the conversation were not answered. Likewise, a text sent to him asking for clarification was not acknowledged. The WhatsApp message sent to him was also not answered, despite that there is evidence he had read it.

In pleading its case before the tribunal, the PDP said it would be relying on reports and evidence from statisticians, forensic examiners, as well as documents such as printouts from Smart Card Readers, security reports, audio-visual recordings, reports from observers, computer-generated evidence, among others.

“The electronic evidence pleaded in this petition were as downloaded and printed from the computers/printers hooked to the internet, belonging to the Miyetti Chambers (Abuja Office), the Claimant’s Solicitors’ Chambers,” the document disclosed in an attempt to shed light on how the figures were arrived at.

The PDP is asking the tribunal to direct INEC to issue a Certificate of Return to the Atiku “as the duly elected President of Nigeria”, or alternatively to nullify the presidential election of February 23 and order that a fresh election be conducted.

'Kunle works with The ICIR as an investigative reporter and fact-checker. You can shoot him an email via [email protected] or, if you're feeling particularly generous, follow him on Twitter @KunleBajo.

If you or someone you know has a lead, tip or personal experience about this report, our WhatsApp line is open and confidential for a conversation

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