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Tribunal Dismisses Atiku’s Petition against Buhari’s Election


The Presidential Election Petition Tribunal on Wednesday dismissed the petition filed by the Peoples Democratic Party and its presidential candidate, Abubakar Atiku against the reelection of President Muhammadu Buhari on February 23, 2019 presidential poll.

The tribunal said the petitioners failed in their evidence that the 2019 general election was not in compliance with the Electoral Act.

In dismissing the petition, the five man tribunal in a unanimous judgment delivered by Jystice Mihammed Garba, held that the petitioners failed to prove allegations of electoral malpractices, violence, amongst others claims contained in their petition.
“Like I had mentiined, there is no admissible evidences to link the witnesses with the allegations of non-compliance to the electoral act or of corruption,” the judge said.

The petition was premised on five grounds, among which that Buhari lied about his academic qualification as well as schools attended in his form 001 submitted to INEC for purpose of contesting the 2019 presidential election.

Atiku and PDP had on March 18, 2019, specifically asked the tribunal to disqualify Buhari on the grounds that he (Buhari) did not possess the requisite academic qualification to contest for the office of President.

However, the chairman of the tribunal held that the petitioners did not discharge the burden of proof and as such dismissed the petition.

It said the fact that Buhari did not attach copies of his certificate to his form 001 submitted to INEC was not enough prove that he was not educated up to secondary school level, adding there is no law that requires a candidate seeking election into office to attach his certificate to his form 001.

The petitioner had asked the tribunal to sack Buhari on grounds that he was not qualified to have contested the election in the first place having not possessed necessary academic qualifications for the office of President.
The petitioners also raised issues of deployment of electronic voting, over voting, substantial non compliance with the electoral law as well as use of security agencies to rig the election in favour of Buhari.

However, the tribunal in the unanimous decision held that despite the 62 witnesses called by the petitioners they were unable to prove their allegations against the conduct of the February 23 presidential poll that it was marred by irregularities.

Atiku and PDP also anchored their petition on the fact that there was a central server which the election umpire used in storing results from the election. And had said the results showed they won the presidential election, and therefore demanded that Atiku be sworn in as winner.

But the tribunal held that there was no enoug evidence adduced by the PDP and Atiku to led credibility to the allegation.

The tribunal struck out the evidence given by the Kenyan Information and Communication Technology (ICT) expert, David Njorga invited as the 59th petitioners witnesses to establish their claim that INEC transmitted results to a server during the last presidential election.

The court described the evidence by Njorga as hearsay evidence because he claimed to have sourced the information about s supposed INEC server from a third party website:

Justice Garba said the court cannot rely on such unbelievable evidence as presented by Njorga to hold that there actually exists a server.
The judge also dismissed the evidence by the petitioners’ witness, who claimed to be a statistician.

Justice Garba noted that Joseph admitted during cross-examination that he has no professional certification.
He said the evidence by both witnesses, who the petitioners described as their expert witnesses, did not qualify as such.

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