•Declare me winner of presidential election, Obi tells tribunal
•Says, Tinubu, Shettima not qualified to be on ballot
•Seeks president-elect’s disqualification on account of his US drug-related forfeitures
•Accuses INEC of suppressing votes in 18,088 polling units, refusal to present forms EC8A, EC8B in Rivers for inspection
Alex Enumah in Abuja
As the curtain falls on the time frame for filing of petitions against the outcome of the February 25 presidential election, the presidential candidates of Labour Party (LP), Mr. Peter Obi; Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Alhaji Atiku Abubakar; Action Alliance (AA), Solomon Okangbuan; and Allied People’s Movement (APM), Chichi Ojei, have filed for the nullification of the declaration of Bola Tinubu of All Progressives Congress (APC) as president-elect by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC).
AA’s petition was contained in suit number CA/PEPC/01/2023, while that of APM was CA/PEPC/03/2023, and that of LP was marked CA/PEPC/04/2023.
Atiku swelled the list with his petition filed on Tuesday in Abuja. Although details of the application by PDP Candidate were yet to be made available in the petition marked: /PEPC/05/2023, Atiku and his party had since faulted the entire process that led to the emergence of Tinubu as president-elect.
Atiku’s petition filed last night came exactly 21 days after INEC Chairman, Professor Mahmood Yakubu, declared Tinubu president-elect, saying his party scored majority of votes cast at the poll.
Meanwhile, Obi, yesterday, asked the Presidential Election Petition Court (PEPC) to declare him as the authentic winner of the February 25 presidential election.
In the petition filed by his team of lawyers, including 13 Senior Advocates of Nigeria (SANs), among who are Dr. Livy Uzoukwu, Away Kalu, Onyechi Ikpeazu, Chief Sebastian Hon, and Jibrin Okutepa, Obi hinged his request on the grounds that he, and not Tinubu, scored majority of lawful votes cast at the presidential poll.
Obi insisted that Tinubu and his vice president-elect, Kashim Shettima, ought not to be on the presidential ballot on the grounds that they were not lawfully nominated by their party.
The INEC chairman had on March 1 declared Tinubu as the president-elect.
In the results announced, Tinubu polled 8,794,726 votes to emerge victorious. Atiku, who came second, scored 6,984,520 votes, while Obi scored 6,101,533 votes.
Dissatisfied with the action of the electoral umpire, Obi and his party approached the court to set aside the return of Tinubu as president-elect and declare him winner instead.
The petition, marked: CA/PEPC/03/2023 and filed by Uzoukwu, was predicated on three grounds, among which were that: Tinubu as at the time of the election was not qualified to contest the election; the election of Tinubu was invalid by reason of corrupt practices or non-compliance with the provisions of the Electoral Act, 2022; and that Tinubu was not duly elected by majority of the lawful votes cast at the presidential election.
While Obi and LP are the petitioners in the suit dated March 20, 2023, INEC, Tinubu, Shettima, and APC are First, Second, Third, and Fourth respondents, respectively.
In the first ground of the petition, Obi and LP argued that the nomination of Shettima as vice president was done in violation of the law and as such should be disqualified.
The LP presidential candidate’s petition read, “The petitioners aver that on July 14, 2022, the third respondent, contrary to the provisions of the Electoral Act 2022, whilst still being a senatorial candidate for Borno Central Constituency, knowingly allowed himself to be nominated as the vice presidential candidate to the second respondent on the platform of the fourth respondent and became the new candidate for the office of the vice president on that date (14 July 2022).
“The petitioners shall rely on Form EC11A signed by the 3rf Respondent and the officials of the 4th Respondent on that same July 14, 2022.”
According to the petitioners, as at the time Shettima purportedly became a vice presidential candidate, he was still the nominated senatorial candidate of APC for the senatorial election for Borno Central Senatorial Constituency.
The petition said, “It is also the petitioners’ case that a candidate, in this case the 3rd Respondent, shall not knowingly allow himself to be nominated in more than one constituency.
“The petitioners shall contend at the trial that the purported sponsorship of the 2nd and 3rd Respondents by the 4th Respondent was rendered invalid by reason of the 3rd Respondent knowingly allowing himself to be nominated as the Vice Presidential Candidate whilst he was still a Senatorial Candidate for the Borno Central Constituency.
“The petitioners shall further contend that for this reason, the votes purportedly recorded for the 2nd Respondent at the contested presidential election were/are wasted votes and ought to be disregarded”.
Besides, Obi and LP also insisted that Tinubu was “at the time of the election not qualified to contest for election to the office of President as he was fined the sum of $460,000.00 (Four-Hundred and Sixty Thousand United States Dollars) for an offence involving dishonesty, namely narcotics trafficking imposed by the United States District Court, Northern District of Illinois, Eastern Division, in Case No: 93C 4483.”
Documents they intend to tender in proving their claim include; a) Verified Complaint for Forfeiture, submitted by Michael J. Shepard (United States Attorney) and signed by Marsha A. McClellan (Assistant United States Attorney);
b) Stipulations and Compromise Settlement of Claims to the Funds held by Heritage Bank and CitiBank; and c) Decree of Forfeiture as to Funds held by First Heritage Bank, signed by United States District Judge, John A. Nordberg.
“The petitioners shall contend that by reason of the said disqualification of the 2nd and 3rd Respondents, the votes purportedly recorded for the 2nd Respondent in the election were/are wasted and invalid; and that the 1st Petitioner who from the correct result of the election obtained the highest number of lawful votes cast in the election and met the constitutional requirements to be declared and returned as the winner of the election, ought to be declared as the winner of the Presidential election held on February 25, 2023.”
On the alleged corrupt practices or non-compliance with the provisions of the Electoral Act, 2022, it was the case of the petitioners that INEC, the fourth respondent, failed to transmit results electronically as stipulated by the law.
Obi and LP contended that the deployment of the Bimodal Voter Accreditation System BVAS (BVAS), Election Results Collation System (CSRVS), and the INEC Results Viewing Portal were aimed at giving the election necessary transparency and credibility.
They claimed that despite a court order, INEC refused to give/issue those forms and refused to allow the inspection of the forms.
They argued, “The petitioners further plead that due to the 1st Respondent’s refusal and neglect to upload and transmit the result of the election in the polling units to the IReV as required by law on the day of the election, the 1st Respondent suppressed the actual scores obtained by the petitioners.
“The suppression of the 1st petitioner’s scores which occurred in Eighteen Thousand and Eighty-Eight (18,088) Polling Units was orchestrated by the 1st Respondent deliberately uploading unreadable and blurred Forms EC8As on the IReV; and thereby, suppressed the lawful scores obtained by the Petitioners in the said Polling Units.
“The petitioners hereby plead and shall at trial rely on a Spread Sheet containing the Polling Units Codes and details of the aforesaid Eighteen Thousand and Eighty-Eight Polling Units, as well as the authentic results in the aforesaid Eighteen Thousand and Eighty Eight Polling Units. In addition, the Petitioners plead that in Benue State, the 1 Respondent also mischievously uploaded blurred Forms EC8A allegedly for Polling Units in an attempt to suppress the lawful result of the election in the Polling Units. The Petitioners shall also at trial rely on a Forensic Report of the Presidential election held in Polling Units in Benue State.”
Obi and LP further claimed that INEC had announced the scores of the petitioners in Rivers State as 175,071 votes and Tinubu and APC as having 231,591 votes. However, by the actual scores obtained at the polling units, the petitioners’ lawful votes in Rivers State are 205,110 votes, while the Tinubu and APC score ought to be 84,108 votes.
The petitioners further contended that if INEC had, as it was mandated to do, utilised the scores recorded on the Forms EC8A, as against the fictitious forms uploaded on the IReV, the petitioners would have won Rivers State.
They added, “Similarly, in Benue State, the 1st Respondent whilst suppressing the lawful votes obtained by the Petitioners, announced that the Petitioners scores from the polling units in Benue State is 308,372 votes.
“The 2nd and 4th Respondents’ score was falsely announced as being 310,468 votes. However, the actual scores of the Petitioners from the polling units in Benue State was 329,003 votes, while the 2nd and 4th Respondents’ scores were 300,421 votes.
“The petitioners were also, by the unlawful announcement made by the 1st Respondent, denied as the winner of the election in Benue State. The petitioners shall at trial rely on the forensic analysis of the election for Rivers State and Benue State made pursuant to the inspection of the election materials as ordered by the court.
“The 1st Respondent and its Officers/Agents whilst purportedly acting under the cover of uploading the result of the Presidential Election held on 25 February 2023 on the IReV, embarked and are still embarking on massive misrepresentation and manipulation by uploading fictitious results in Polling Units where there were no elections as well as uploading incorrect results. The actual scores of the petitioners have been reduced, tampered with and false.
“The actual scores of the petitioners obtained from the Polling Units and from the result of the election pursuant to the Inspection of the election materials as ordered by the court, shall be shown in the Forensic Report of the election result. The said Forensic Report is hereby pleaded and is also incorporated in this Petition.
“The petitioners further aver that the scores obtained by the Petitioners were unlawfully reduced and added by the 1st Respondent to the scores of the 2nd Respondent. Further, the 1st Respondent deliberately uploaded blurred result, which were in favour of the Petitioners on the IReV in a bid to conceal them.
“The petitioners shall pray the honourable court to deduct these unlawful scores added to the 2nd Respondent and for those scores which were legitimately obtained by the Petitioners to be credited to the Petitioners’ scores.
“The petitioners also state that when the scores unlawfully added to the 2nd Respondent are deducted, the petitioners will have the highest number of votes in the election, as shown is in the Forensic Report pleaded above.
“The petitioners aver that when the results of Polling Units, Wards, Local Governments, States are properly tabulated and calculated as required by the Electoral Act and the Regulations and Guidelines for election, the overall results of the election and the percentages scored by the Political Parties will show that the Petitioners won the Presidential election of 25 February 2023.
“The petitioners shall rely on a Report of Inspection of the electoral materials pursuant to the orders of this Honourable Court, which orders were made to enable the Petitioners institute and maintain this petition. The orders made by this Honourable Court are hereby pleaded and shall be relied upon at the trial.”
The reliefs they sought from the court included a determination that at the time of the presidential election held on February 25, 2023, Tinubu and Shettima were not qualified to contest the election.
They sought, “That it be determined that all the votes recorded for Tinubu (2nd Respondent) in the election are wasted votes owing to the non-qualification/disqualification of Tinubu and Shettima.
“That it be determined that Tinubu having failed to score one-quarter of the votes cast at the presidential election in the Federal Capital Territory, Abuja was not entitled to be declared and returned as the winner of the presidential election held on 25th February, 2023.
“In the alternative to 2 above: an order cancelling the election and compelling INEC to conduct a fresh election at which Tinubu, Shettima and APC shall not participate.
“In the alternative to 1,2,3 above, I) that it may be determined that Tinubu was not duly elected by majority of the lawful votes cast in the election for the office of the president and therefore the declaration and return of the 2nd Respondent as the winner of the Presidential Election’ are unlawful, unconstitutional and of no effect whatsoever.