All is Now Set for Judgement as Atiku, Obi Adopt Final Written Addresses

All is Now Set for Judgement as Atiku, Obi Adopt Final Written Addresses

The Presidential Election Petitions Court(PEPC) on Tuesday informed Senior counsels to both petitioners and respondents in the cases initiated to annul the electoral victory of President Bola Ahmed Tinubu that they would be communicated on the date of judgement. Justice Haruna Tsammani who led the five-member panel of the court said a date for judgement

The Presidential Election Petitions Court(PEPC) on Tuesday informed Senior counsels to both petitioners and respondents in the cases initiated to annul the electoral victory of President Bola Ahmed Tinubu that they would be communicated on the date of judgement.

Justice Haruna Tsammani who led the five-member panel of the court said a date for judgement in the suit would be communicated to parties. But the judgement must be delivered before 16 September, 2023 when the suit will lapse.

The PDP petition was filed on 21 March but hearing in the substantive matter began in May, lasting for three months.

Counsels to Alhaji Atiku Abubakar, his party – the Peoples Democratic party (PDP), Mr. Peter Obi and his party the Labour Party (LP) and the respondents – the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), President Bola Ahmed Tinubu and the All Progressives Congress ( APC) had taken turns to adopt and adumbrate on the final written addresses filed in respect of the two cases.

Specifically, lead counsel to INEC, Mr. A. B. Mahmoud, Senior Advocate of Nigeria (SAN)urged the court to dismiss Atiku’s suit for “lacking in merit.” In INEC’s final argument, Mr Mahmoud told the court that Alhaji Abubakar “failed to discharge the burden placed on him by law” in proving his allegations against the conduct of the election.

He contended that Atiku’s case centred on alleged “non-compliance with the electoral act and INEC guidelines and regulations” which the petitioner did not substantiate.

The electoral umpire’s lead counsel said the deployment of the Bimodal Voters Accreditation System machines and INEC Results Viewing (IReV) for the presidential election was “successful.”

“The evidence (before the court) showed that these innovations around accreditation and authentication were successful.

“The information generated by BVAS were stored on the Amazon Web Services (AWS). The evidence before court showed that AWS is the most secure and reliable services across the world,” Mr Mahmoud argued against Atiku’s claim that the IReV portal was compromised by INEC in favour of President Tinubu.

Asked by the court to clarify issues around electronic transmission of results and uploading of results on IReV, Mr Mahmoud explained that Alhaji Abubakar and the PDP “contrived in their mind an electronic collation system. The evidence does not support that. There is no such thing.”

He further said “the glitch which disrupted the real-time upload (of presidential election results from the polling units) only lasted for 4 hours 50 minutes on election day.”

“Second point of disagreement is that this glitch was contrived as a result of human interference. But Alhaji Abubakar failed woefully to establish that there was human interference.

“The evidence before the court showed clearly that the election went well smoothly at the polling units and results were well collated,” Mr Mahmoud told the court.

On the issue of statutory requirement of 25 per cent votes in Abuja, Mr Mahmoud said the argument “is illogical” as it goes against the express provisions of the Constitution.

“The FCT must be treated as if it were a State. We submit that the case for noncompliance has not been made, the FCT argument has to fall on its face,” Mr. Mahmoud argued, praying the court to “dismiss this petition.”

In President Tinubu’s closing argument on Tuesday, his lead counsel, Chief Wole Olanipekun, said manual collation of the presidential election results did not diminish the credibility of the electoral process.

“Uploading results to IReV whether manually or electronically plays no role in collation of results; it does not add or decrease the number of votes. Collation is physical and manual,” Chief Olanipekun SAN said.

He said Alhaji Abubakar had “abandoned his petition,”owing to his inability to prove his case.

Chief Olanipekun told the court that the former Vice President resorted to “attacking” President Tinubu’s person instead of proving his allegations.

“The court cannot give to the petitioners what they have not asked in their final written address. It is my submission that the Petitioner is a meddlesome interloper.”

He told the court that Alhaji Abubakar won a paltry one quarter of the two-thirds of votes in Abuja as stipulated in the constitution.

Drawing the court’s attention to the issue of mode of transmission of results, Chief Olanipekun said a recent judgement of the Court of Appeal in Lagos, “affirmed the discretion of INEC to apply any methodology in transmission of results.”

“We urge your Lordships to dismiss this petition,” Chief Olanipekun argued, adding Alhaji Abubakar merely dumped electoral documents on the court without proving his suit against President Tinubu.

The APC on its part, urged the court to dismiss Atiku’s petition for lacking in substance.

APC’s lead counsel, Prince Lateef Fagbemi SAN said Alhaji Abubakar’s “witnesses did not dispute the figures (results) reeled out” by INEC.

“No one presented an alternative figure of results to counter INEC’s declaration.”

On the issue of 25 per cent votes in FCT, Price Fagbemi said it: “will give overbearing privilege to FCT voters over and above a majority of Nigerians.”

He urged the court to affirm President Tinubu’s victory and dismiss Atiku’s petition for lacking in merit.

In Mr. Obi’s petition, Chief Olanipekun argued that the Petitioners have abandoned their petition drawing the court’s attention to the headline of the final written address filed by the Petitioners which showed that it was in response to respondents written addresses.

On electronic transmission of results, Chief Olanipekun said :” we overflogged the issue convincingly. Upload of result to iRev is not part of a Collation process as all Collation are done physically at Collation units and recorded on appropriate forms”.

Addressing the issue of securing 25 percent in FCT, Chief Olanipekun said the second respondent scored one quarter of the two-thirds of the states.

Chief Olanipekun who described the petition as “jurisprudential fiction”, Chief Olanipekun urged the court to dismiss it.
Prince Fagbemi who described the petition as ambitious said:” investigation in an election is to find out whether voting took place, counting, Collation and declaration”.

On what he called “the much touted issue of rerun”, Prince Fagbemi said:” it is a two-horse race between the winner and runner up. It is not available to the Petitioners”.

Addressing the court on the issue of disqualification as contemplated in Sec. 137(D)(b)Prince Fagbemi said it was not a criminal forfeiture because there was no charge and trial.

Prince Fagbemi said FCT does not enjoy any special status as far as election was concerned.

On iRev and electronic transmission of results, Prince Fagbemi said it had been settled by the decision in the case of Oyetola V INEC.

The APC lead counsel urged the court to dismiss the petition.

Mr. Peter Obi’s lead counsel, Dr. Livy Uzoukwu urged the court to uphold the Petitioners prayers and relief stressing that the Petitioners have proved their petition stressing that the issue of non compliance with the Electoral Act has no defence.

He said the Petitioners have proved that there was no glitch whatsoever.

The Independent National Electoral Commission ( INEC), had on 1 March declared President Tinubu of the All Progressives Congress (APC) winner of the 25 February presidential election.

But Alhaji Abubakar of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and Labour Party’s ( LP) Mr Obi urged the court in his petition to nullify President Tinubu’s victory on grounds of non-compliance with the Nigerian constitution and the Electoral Act.

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