President Muhammadu Buhari and his party, the All Progressives Congress (APC), have told the Presidential Election Petitions Tribunal sitting in Abuja that they won the Feb. 23 presidential election.
Responding to allegations contained in the petition by Atiku and his party, the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) , Buhari and his party, told the tribunal to discountenance Atiku’s submission that he won the election.
President Buhari, in his reply to Atiku’s allegation of not qualified for the election, said he was more qualified to contest the presidential election.
In a petition before the tribunal, Atiku had said he scored 18, 356, 732 as against Buhari’s 16, 741, 530 to win the presidential election.
The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), Buhari and APC are the 1st, 2nd and 3rd respondents.
Atiku had filed the petition to contest the declaration of Buhari by INEC winner of the election, the petitioners provided figures as proof that Atiku beat Buhari with over one million votes.
According to the petitioners, from figures collated from their agents in all the polling units, ward collation centres, local government area collation centres, and the state collation centres, in all the states of the federation and the Federal Capital Territory as well as at the national collation centre, Atiku scored a total votes of 18, 356, 732 as against Buhari’s 16, 741, 530.
These figures, the petitioners claimed, are available in the server of INEC and are at variance with those declared by the electoral umpire, which credited Atiku with 11, 262, 430 votes, while Buhari got 15, 191, 847 to emerge the winner.
Anchoring their argument on five grounds, the petitioners contended that Buhari was not duly elected by majority of lawful votes cast at the election; and that from the data on each state of the Federation and the Federal Capital Territory, Abuja, in the 1st Respondent’s server, the 1st Petitioner, as opposed to the 2nd Respondent, scored majority of lawful votes cast at the election.
According to the petitioners, the election did not comply with the electoral guidelines.
“Smart Card Readers deployed by the 1st Respondent, in addition to accreditation, equally transmitted electronically the results of voting from polling units directly to the server of the 1st Respondent. The Presiding Officers of the 1st Respondent directly inputted the results from the polling units at the end of voting and transmitted directly to the server, in addition to manually taking the Form EC8As to the Wards for collation. The 1st Respondent is hereby given notice to produce the records of results from each polling unit uploaded and transmitted electronically by officials of the 1st Respondent through smart card readers to the 1st Respondent’s Servers.”
They also claimed that INEC deliberately refused to adhere to “its Regulations and Guidelines for the Conduct of Elections, 2019 made pursuant to the Electoral Act, 2010 (as amended) provided for the mandatory use of card readers for the said election.
“The 1st Respondent by its press release on smart card readers issued in February 2019 and signed by its National Commissioner, Barrister Festus Okoye, emphasised and reiterated that ‘The use of the Smart Card Reader is NOT ONLY MANDATORY but its deliberate non-use attracts the sanction of possible prosecution of erring officials in accordance with the INEC Regulations and Guidelines for the conduct of elections.’
“This is in addition to the voiding of any result emanating from such units or areas as was done in the Presidential and National Assembly elections of February 23, 2019.”
The petitioners, therefore stated that the 2nd Respondent was not duly elected by majority of lawful votes cast at the election.
“The election of the 2nd Respondent is invalid by reason of corrupt practices.
“The election of the 2nd Respondent is invalid by reason of non-compliance with the provisions of the Electoral Act, 2010 (as amended).
“The 2nd Respondent was at the time of the election not qualified to contest the said election.
“The 2nd Respondent submitted to the 1st Respondent an affidavit containing false information of a fundamental nature in aid of his qualification for the said election.”
The petition cited non-compliance with the provisions of the Electoral Act 2010 (as amended), which include, non holding of elections and cancellation of results.
Atiku and the PDP claimed that the Presidential election conducted by the 1st Respondent is invalid on account of corrupt practices.
The petitioners said the 2nd Respondent was not qualified to contest the presidency because he gave false information .
“By Section 31 (1) of the Electoral Act, 2010 (as amended), every political party shall not later than 60 days before the date appointed for a general election submit to the Commission in the prescribed form the list of the candidates the party proposes to sponsor at the elections.
“Further, by Section 31(2) of the Electoral Act, 2010 (as amended), the list or information submitted by each candidate shall be accompanied by an affidavit sworn to by the candidate at the Federal High Court, High Court of a State or Federal Capital Territory indicating that he has fulfilled all the constitutional requirements for election into that office,” Atiku asserted.
However, Buhari, in a response filed on April 16 by a team of lawyers led by Wole Olanipekun (SAN), faulted the claim by Atiku and the PDP that he lacked the requisite academic qualification to stand for election to the office of the President.
The President said he was far more qualified than Atiku and challenged Atiku to produce his academic credentials before the tribunal.
Buhari faulted the entire petition filed by the PDP and Atiku, noting that they are more about pre-election issues, which the Court of Appeal, sitting as a tribunal lacked jurisdiction.
He also argued that the petitioners told lies against themselves in the petition and made conflicting claims which the tribunal cannot grant.
For instance, Buhari noted that while the petitioners claimed to have won the last presidential election and also won elections in many states in the south-south and south-eastern part of the country, they also urged the court to nullify the election and order a fresh presidential election.
Burari argued that by virtue of Section of 137of the Electoral Act, petitioners cannot question the results of elections in states where they claim to have won and still retain themselves as petitioners.
He asked the tribunal to dismiss the petition on the grounds that the reliefs the petitioners sought by the petitioners are frivolous.
“The entire reliefs are not justifiable, as the petitioners, who claim to have scored majority of lawful votes in substantial number of states, are also questioning their own return in those states.
“The petitioners cannot act as petitioners and respondents in the same petition.”