Politics

Atiku, PDP’s petition an abuse of court process – Tinubu tells tribunal

Sen. Bola Tinubu, the president-elect, has described the petition filed by Vice-President Atiku Abubakar and Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) against his election victory as “a gross abuse of court processes.”

 

Tinubu, in a reply to the petition through his team of lawyers led by Chief Wole Olanipekun, SAN, told the Presidential Election Petition Court (PEPC) sitting in Abuja.

 

In a preliminary objection marked: CA/PEPC/05/2023, the All Progressives Congress (APC)’s presidential candidate in the Feb. 25 election, prayed the court to dismiss the entire petition.

 

The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that Abubakar, 1st petitioner, and PDP, 2nd petitioner, in the petition marked: CA/PEPC/05/2023, had sued INEC, Tinubu and APC as 1st to 3rd respondents respectively.

 

The petitioners are seeking the nullification of the Feb 25 presidential poll.

 

Tinubu, who defeated 17 other candidates who took part in the election, scored a total of 8,794,726 votes, the highest of all the candidates.

 

NAN reports that while the former vice president came second with 6,984,520 votes in the poll; Peter Obi of the Labour Party (LP) came third with 6,101,533 votes.

 

However, Abubakar and the PDP are asking the tribunal to set aside Tinubu’s victory and to declare Abubakar winner of the election.

 

In the alternative, they want an order mandating INEC to conduct a fresh election, without the participation of APC and its candidate.

 

Responding, Tinubu argued that the entire petition constituted an abuse of processes of court.

 

He said the petitioners, in another case before the Supreme Court, are also asking for same reliefs as in the instant petition.

 

He said the originating summons dated Feb. 28 was filed by six states controlled by the PDP (2nd petitioner) against the Attorney-General of the Federation (AGF), Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) and others.

 

He said Attorneys-General of Sokoto, Adamawa, Akwa-Ibom, Bayelsa, Delta and Edo are plaintiffs in the case.

 

“Most, if not all the issues the plaintiffs submitted for determination in the said originating summons are repeated in the present petition,” he said.

 

“In the main, the originating summons sought the setting aside of the presidential election held on 25th February, 2023.

 

“The plaintiffs attacked INEC for not following its Manual and Regulations in the conduct of the election, and also complained of glitches, which is also the thrust of their petition.

 

“While the originating summons was filed on Feb. 28, this petition was filed on March 21,” he argued.

 

Tinubu, who said the petitioners are maintaining two processes in respect of the same subject, urged the court to dismiss the petition.

 

He said the grounds of the petition were incompetent, hence, the court lacked the jurisdiction to entertain them.

 

He argued that though the petitioners alleged his election was invalid by reason of non-compliance with the provision of the Electoral Act, 2022, they failed to disclose incidence of non-compliance with the law.

 

He said though the petitioners complained about outcome of the election in 10 states which include Abia, Anambra, Delta, Ebonyi, Edo, Enugu, Imo, Kano, Plateau and Lagos, he was not declared as the overall winner in any of the states listed.

 

According to him Mr Peter Obi of the Labour Party was declared the overall winner of the election in Abia, Anambra, Delta, Ebonyi, Edo, Enugu, Imo, Plateau and Lagos States, while Rabiu Musa Kwankwaso of the New Nigeria People’s Party was declared winner of the election in Kano State.

 

Tinubu argued that none of these people and their parties were joined as a party on the petition.

 

He said he could not be made willy-nilly to defend any infraction allegedly committed in any of those states.

 

He, therefore, argued that the petition was improperly constituted and prayed the court to dismiss it.

 

Tinubu said that Abubakar couldn’t have won the poll because he was a serial election loser.

 

“The 1st petitioner (Abubakar) has been consistently contesting and losing successive presidential elections in Nigeria since 1993, whether at the party primary election level or at the general election,” he said.

 

The president-elect recalled that Abubakar in 1993, lost the Social Democratic Party (SDP) primary election to the late Chief M.K.O Abiola.

 

He said “in 2007, he lost the presidential

 

election to the late President Umaru Musa Yar’Adua.”

 

He said in 2011, he lost the PDP presidential primary election to President Goodluck Jonathan and in 2015, he lost the APC primary election to President Muhammadu Buhari.

 

Tinubu said in 2019, Abubakar lost the presidential election to Buhari; and now in 2023, he had, again, lost the presidential election to him.

 

According to the president-elect, it was not a surprise or not by accident that the electorate rejected the 1st petitioner at the polls of the presidential election held on Feb. 25.

 

He said he was ready to lead evidence to proof to the court that a host of states controlled by PDP and their governors protested against Abubakar’s emergence as party’s candidate and vowed never to support his candidature.

 

He said he would “lead evidence to show that the 1st petitioner could not even campaign or canvass for votes in some of the states controlled by the 2nd petitioner, including Rivers and Oyo States where the 2nd respondent (Tinubu) defeated the 1st petitioner (Abubakar) by a wide margin.

 

Tinubu, who said former vice president having lost at the election had no right to be declare as winner under the Nigerian laws, prayed the court to dismiss the petition for lacking in merit, substance and sincerity.

 

He described it as being “frivolous, vexatious, highly misconceived and disclosing of no reasonable cause

of action.”

 

(National Accord)

 

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