Presidential tribunal reserves judgment on Atiku, Obi’s petitions

THE Presidential Election Tribunal on Tuesday, August 1, reserved judgment on the petitions filed by the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) candidate Atiku Abubakar and Peter Obi of the Labour Party (LP) against the outcome of the February 25 presidential election. 

Atiku and Obi, in different suits, are challenging the declaration of President Bola Tinubu as the winner of the election by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC).

In Atiku’s case, the respondents in the suit are the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) Tinubu and the All Progressives Party (APC).

After adopting the parties’ final written addresses, the Tribunal reserved judgment on the petition.

The Chairman of the Tribunal, Simon Haruna Tsammani, announced that the verdict would be given at a later time that would be made known to all parties.

The lead lawyer for Atiku, Chris Uche, a Senior Advocate of Nigeria (SAN), stated in his concluding statement that the fact that no presidential election had ever been nullified in the country should not be a reason for not nullifying the result of the 2023 poll.

He maintained that the technical difficulties encountered during the transfer of results were intentional in order to permit manipulation.

Uche requested that Tinubu be removed from office due to the American Court ruling that ordered him to forfeit $460,000 for drug and money laundering-related offences.

He also requested the Tribunal to consider the report from the European Union (EU).

Uche, however, urged the Tribunal to either grant the petitioner’s request for relief or, failing that, to void the election and order a new one.

In his submission, APC’s legal representative, Lateef Fagbemi, SAN, asserted that there is no written or verbal evidence from Chicago University refuting Tinubu’s enrollment.

Fagbemi said the forfeiture was a civil one and is not a disqualification factor.

“It is not a disqualifying factor. No evidence of arraignment or pleadings. It was a civil forfeiture proceeding,” he said.

Additionally, he claimed that the forfeiture issue occurred 20 years ago, stating, “without conceding our constitution is a forgiving one”.

He added that the United States of America had awarded his client a clean bill of health.

Regarding the President’s relief from having dual citizenship, Fagbemi cited Section 137 (1a) to make the case that a citizen by birth cannot be disqualified for having citizenship in another country.

Tinubu’s counsel, Wole Olanipekun, SAN, requested that the case be dismissed because INEC is the object of Atiku and PDP’s complaints.

Olanipekun argued that the petition should be dismissed because it is without merit and referred to the petitioner as an intrusive outsider.

He added that the FCT counts as 37th state for electoral purposes. In Abuja, the second respondent received two-thirds of one-fourth of the votes.

Lawyer to INEC, Abubakar Mahmoud, SAN, said the petitioners’ evidence demonstrated INEC’s sincere intentions to use technology to hold a legitimate election.

He claimed that the petition utterly failed to prove that human meddling caused the IReV problem and that it harmed the election’s result.

The presidential election petition Tribunal also reserved judgment in the suit filed by Obi of the LP.

Obi, who came third in the election, was present in the court alongside his Vice Presidential candidate, Yusuf Datti Baba-Ahmed and award-winning novelist, Chimamanda Adichie.

Obi filed a petition in March challenging the outcome of the February 25 poll.

Obi and his party are asking the court to nullify Tinubu’s victory.

In their final written address dated July 20, the petitioners insisted that Tinubu and Vice President Kashim Shettima were not qualified to contest the poll.

The petitioners had said Tinubu, due to the forfeiture of $460,000 in the US and his failure to receive 25 per cent of the votes cast in the Federal Capital Territory (FCT), Tinubu should not have been declared President.

The petitioners ended their case on June 23 after interrogating 13 witnesses.

Tuesday’s court session saw the adoption of the petitioners’ and respondents’ final written addresses.

INEC counsel, Mahmoud, requested that the court dismiss the petition

“We humbly submit that this petition is lacking in merit and should be dismissed,” he said.

APC lawyer Fagbemi, as well and Tinubu and Shettima’s counsel, Olanipekun, also asked the court to dismiss the petitioners’ lawsuit.

In both Atiku and Obi s cases, the five-member panel of justices led by Tsammani reserved judgment, noting that a date would be communicated to the parties.

A reporter with the ICIR
A Journalist with a niche for quality and a promoter of good governance

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