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Presidential Election: Anxiety mounts as judgment day beckons

Anxiety has started building up in the camp of President Bola Tinubu and the presidential candidates of the Peoples Democratic Party(PDP), Atiku Abubakar and Peter Obi of the Labour Party (LP) as judgment day beckons at the Presidential Election Petition Court (PEPC) where the declaration of the president as winner of the February 25 election is being challenged.

 

Already, with the filing of the final addresses by both parties in the petitions filed by Atiku and Obi against the victory of President Tinubu, the stage is now set for adoption of the written arguments to pave the way for the court to fix a date for judgment, reports Daily Sun.

 

In their separate petitions, both candidates had challenged the declaration of Tinubu as the president by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC).

 

It is their common prayer for the court should nullify the election of Tinubu on the grounds that at the time of the presidential election, he was not qualified to contest on grounds of forfeiture of proceeds from drug trafficking and money laundering in the US, declaration of allegiance to another country other than Nigeria, presenting a forged university certificate, perjury and inability to win the highest votes cast in the election.

 

Both also said for a candidate to be declared president according to the constitution, the person must score 25 percent of valid votes in the Federal Capital Territory.

 

On his part, Obi also alleged that Vice President Kashim Shettima, at the time of his nomination as running mate was already the senatorial candidate of the All Progressives Congress (APC) for Borno Central.

 

In his final address settled by his lead counsel, Chief Chris Uche, Atiku said INEC’S assertion that he won in 21 states was neither disputed, retracted, debunked and therefore the court should proceed to declare him winner of the election.

 

The former VP, who accused the electoral body of manipulating the outcome of the election in favour of Tinubu and the APC urged the court not to be intimidated by the ruling party but to be courageous to stand on the part of justice.

 

Atiku and Obi’s teams described Tinubu’s statement that there would be anarchy if the election was nullified as cheap, misguided and destructive blackmail.

 

They were referring to President Tinubu’s written address filed by his lead counsel, Wole Olanipekun, threatening that if the election which produced him as president is nullified, it could lead to “absurdity, chaos anarchy and alteration of the very intention of the legislature.”

 

In the case of Atiku, the electoral umpire had in its response to Atiku’s petition, asserted that the PDP presidential candidate won 21 states in the last presidential poll. It listed the 21 states won by Atiku and his political party to include Adamawa, Akwa Ibom. Bauchi. Bavelsa. Borno, Delta, Ekiti, Gombe, Jigawa, Kaduna, Katsina. Kebbi. Kogi. Kwara, Nasarawa, Niger, Osun, Sokoto, Taraba, Yobe, and Zamfara.

 

Atiku, therefore, urged the court to hold that since the electoral umpire, which on its own averments, claimed that he won states and did not rebutt the assertion throughout the proceedings, the tribunal should proceed to uphold the declaration.

 

The final written address read in part: “Very importantly, the 1st Respondent (INEC) who conducted the election made an open admission in paragraph 18 of its Reply to the Petition, where it unequivocally stated thus:

 

“The 1st Respondent further avers that in compliance with extant laws and regulations, it diligently discharged its duties when it collated the 1st Petitioner’s (Atiku) scores at the election which aggregates to 6,984,520 winning only 21 States to wit: Adamawa, Akwa Ibom. Bauchi. Bavelsa. Borno, Delta, Ekiti, Gombe, Jigawa, Kaduna, Katsina. Kebbi. Kogi. Kwara, Nasarawa, Niger, Osun, Sokoto, Taraba, Yobe and Zamfara.

 

“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 ist 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.

 

While accusing the INEC of deliberate manipulation of the results of the polls, Atiku and his party equally described the failure to electronically transmit the results of the election as “wilful sabotage.

 

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