Godfrey George and Solomon Odeniyi
The presidential candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party, Atiku Abubakar, has asked the Presidential Election Petition Court to declare him the winner of the February 25 presidential election, having won won in 21 states.
This was as he stated that the winner announced by the Independent National Electoral Commission, Bola Tinubu, was not qualified to contest the election “having regard to an order of criminal forfeiture against him arising from a drug-related offence, his declaration of allegiance to a country other than Nigeria and acquisition of citizenship of another country and presenting a forged certificate to the first respondent (INEC)’.
Atiku also stated that he had proven that the return of Tinubu in the election as the President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria was ‘invalidated by reason of substantial non-compliance with the mandatory provisions of the Electoral Act, 2022 on electronic transmission of results for collation and verification by deliberate bypass of and failure to transmit the election results electronically’.
He made the request in his final address filed at the PEPC on July 20 in support of his joint petition with the PDP, seeking the nullification of INEC’s declaration of Tinubu as the winner of the poll.
In the final address signed by his lead counsel, Chief Chris Uche (SAN), Atiku said that INEC’s assertion that he won in 21 states was neither ‘disputed, retracted, debunked nor claimed to be an error through the proceedings of the tribunal so far’.
INEC had, in its response to Atiku’s petition, asserted that the PDP presidential candidate won 21 states of the federation in the February 25 presidential poll.
The 21 states listed by INEC as having been won by Atiku and the PDP were Adamawa, Akwa Ibom, Bauchi, Bavelsa, Borno, Delta, Ekiti, Gombe, Jigawa, Kaduna, Katsina, Kebbi, Kogi, Kwara, Nasarawa, Niger, Osun, Sokoto, Taraba, Yobe and Zamfara.
Atiku said that since INEC, which on its own averments claimed that he won the states and did not rebut the assertion throughout the proceedings, the tribunal should proceed to uphold the declaration.
The final address read in part, “Notwithstanding, the first respondent (INEC) unequivocally and clearly admitted in its pleadings, namely paragraph 18 on page 13 of its reply to the petition, which was never refuted nor retracted that the petitioners won 21 states of the federation in the presidential election, which is an admission against interest.
“As a result of non-use of the collation by electronic transmission, the first respondent (INEC) later altered the admitted result of 21 states for the first petitioner to 12 states.
“The petitioners have established that the return of the 2nd respondent as the winner of the presidential election held on 25th day of February 2023, was unlawful and unconstitutional, having not secured one-quarter of the valid votes cast in the FCT, Abuja as required by the Constitution of the Federal of Nigeria, 1999 (As Amended).
“The petitioners have proved that the second respondent was not duly elected by a majority of the lawful votes cast in the election. 41 (e). The respondents proffered very scanty evidence in defence and virtually abandoned their pleadings by not calling necessary witnesses, and not having any credible defence to the Petition. 6.02 We submit with all sense of responsibility that this Nation and its Judiciary stand at the threshold of history.”
He added that the fact that a presidential election has never been nullified by the courts in Nigeria before now was not a good reason not to do so now, as, according to him, it is very just to do so.