The presidential candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in the February 25 election, Alhaji Atiku Abubakar, has told the Presidential Election Petitions Court (PEPC) to declare him winner based on the submission of the Independent National Electoral Commission’s (INEC) that he won 21 states during the polls.
Atiku, in his final written address through his lawyers, claimed that the commission did not dispute, retract, debunk or claim an error in pronouncing him winner in the 21 states.
He similarly asked the court to nullify the declaration of President Bola Tinubu as winner of the election because he failed to secure up to a quarter of the votes cast in the Federal Capital Territory, Abuja.
The presidential candidate of Labour Party, Mr. Peter Obi, canvassed a similar position.
He argued that Section 134(2) of the Constitution is clear on the issue of winning at least 25 per cent of the votes in the FCT and 24 states as a condition for emerging as Nigeria’s president.
Atiku listed the states INEC credited him as winning as Adamawa, Akwa Ibom, Bauchi, Bayelsa, Borno, Delta, Ekiti, Gombe, Jigawa, Kaduna, Katsina, Kebbi, Kogi, Kwara, Nasarawa, Niger, Osun, Sokoto, Taraba, Yobe and Zamfara.
His lawyers said: “Indeed, as admitted by the 1st Respondent (INEC), the 1st Petitioner (Atiku) won in these 21 states. It is important to note that throughout the trial, the 1st Respondent (INEC) neither refuted nor countermanded this critical averment nor denied it.
“We urge your Lordship to hold that this constitutes an admission that requires no further proof. It also constitutes an admission against interest.’
Atiku accused INEC of manipulating “the technologies earlier put in place to ensure transparency, and wrongfully returned the said 2nd Respondent (Tinubu) as winner at about 4.00 am on is March 2023, at a time the 1st Respondent admitted that substantial percentage of the results had not been transmitted to the collation system for verification as required by law.”
He added: “Under the cover of the so-called ‘technical glitch’ excuse which the Respondent (INEC) never explained, the results were deliberately manipulated through suppression and discounting of the votes of the 1st Petitioner (Atiku) and inflation of the votes of the 2nd Respondent (Tinubu).
“This deliberate bypass of the use of the prescribed verification technology was nationwide and substantially affected the outcome of the election.
“We therefore submit that under the new regime of technology-based elections, the old, traditional and analogue manner of proof of substantial non-compliance must yield way to a modern, dynamic and scientific approach by the Courts towards proof of substantial non-compliance.
“The intent of the new Electoral Act 2022 is that the old order must give way to the new order; the analogue must yield to the digital, and we urge this Honourable Court to resolve this Issue in favour of the petitioners.”
Atiku and the PDP said INEC was wrong in declaring Tinubu winner having allegedly not secured one-quarter of the valid votes cast in the FCT as required by the Constitution.
They argued that the FCT was a distinct creation that cannot be equated to any of the states of the federation.
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They added: “From the above, it is clear that the provisions of section 299 will not apply to section 134 (2) (a) of the Constitution, which deals with procedure for election of President with margin note ‘Election: two or more Presidential candidates.’
“The said section 134 (2)(a) of the Constitution has nothing to do with the matters mentioned in Section 299 of the Constitution, namely legislative powers, executive powers and judicial powers.
“We therefore submit that the said Federal Capital Territory Abuja cannot be construed as the 37th state in the computation of presidential election results and in the construction of section 134(2) (a) aforesaid.
“A digest of the section reveals that there are two limbs in Section 134(2) which are conjunctive and not disjunctive.
“That is, (a) the candidate must have the majority of votes cast at the election; and (b) he must have not less than one-quarter of the votes cast at the election in each of at least two-thirds of all states of the Federation AND the Federal Capital Territory, Abuja.
“Furthermore, there are two scenarios contemplated in the provision dealing with where there are only 2 candidates; and where there are more than 2 candidates. In both situations, any of the candidates must satisfy both conditions of 25 percent in at least 24 states of the 36 states of the Federation; and 25 percent in the FCT.
“It is not in dispute that the 2nd respondent (Tinubu Bola Ahmed) did not achieve the constitutional requirement to be returned as winner of the election.
“We rely on the Exhibit PB (Form EC8D -Declaration of Result) and Exhibits PC 1-37 (EC8D1) – the summary of Results of the election.”
They argued that Tinubu’s sole witness, Senator Opeyemi Bamidele, “admitted clearly under cross-examination that the 2nd respondent (Tinubu) did not score 25 per cent in the FCT.
“We therefore submit the 1st respondent failed to comply with the provisions of section 134 of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria 1999 (as amended) in wrongfully, unlawfully and unconstitutionally returning the 2nd respondent as winner of the election.
“We therefore urge Your Lordships to resolve this Issue in favour of the Petitioners and hold that the 2” Respondent was wrongly returned as elected when he scored less than one-quarter of the votes cast at the election in the Federal Capital Territory, Abuja as required by the Constitution.”
Atiku and the PDP argued that Tinubu ought to be disqualified from contesting the election “having regard to order of forfeiture arising from drug-related offence, his acquisition of citizenship of a country other than Nigeria, and presenting a forged certificate to the 1st respondent (INEC).
“We therefore submit with all sense of responsibility that this nation and its Judiciary stand at the threshold of history.
“We submit that the fact that a presidential election has never been nullified by the courts in Nigeria before now is not a good reason not to do so now, as is very just to so do.”
They added: “In conclusion, we humbly and respectfully urge the honourable court to resolve all the issues formulated for determination in favour of the petitioners and thereupon grant the reliefs and/or alternative reliefs of the petitioners contained in paragraph 150 of the petition, for the reasons, inter alia:
*The petitioners have proved that the return of the 2nd respondent in the election to the office of the President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria held on 25th day of February 2023 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 resus electronically,
*The petitioners have established that the return of the 2nd respondent as the winner of the Presidential election held on 25″ 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.
*The petitioners have established that the 2nd respondent was clearly disqualified under the provisions of the Constitution to contest the Presidential election, having regard to order of forfeiture on him arising from drug-related offence, his acquisition of citizenship of another country, and presenting a forged certificate to the 1st respondent.
*The petitioners have proved that 2nd respondent was not duly elected by majority of the lawful votes cast in the election.
*The respondents proffered very scanty evidence in defence, and virtually abandoned their pleadings by not calling necessary witnesses, not having any credible defence to the petition.