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Atiku and I should be the candidates in any rerun elections, not Obi, Tinubu tells PEPC

Jul 24, 2023 | 2023 Elections | 0 comments

President Bola Tinubu has asked justices of the Presidential Election Petition Court (PEPC) in Abuja to exclude Labour Party (LP) presidential candidate Peter Obi and his party from any rerun presidential election, arguing that only he and PDP candidate Atiku Abubakar are constitutionally qualified to run.

Tinubu said that Obi and his party would be disqualified if the courts nullify the February 25, 2023 presidential election.

Obi asked the PEPC’s five-member panel to fire Tinubu immediately to uphold the people’s will as stated in the February 25 presidential election.

Tinubu criticised Obi and LP for requesting the court to nullify the election and force INEC to hold a new one in which he, Shettima, and the APC would not participate.

Obi and LP were legally forbidden from running in the rerun election. Therefore, the respite would not benefit them.

Tinubu’s last answer to Obi and the LP’s petition challenging his presidency was in writing.

On March 1, INEC Chairman Prof. Mahmood Yakubu proclaimed Tinubu the February 25 presidential election victor with 8,794,726 votes, while Atiku and Obi received 6,984,520 and 6,101,533 votes, respectively.

PEPC: Failure to send results electronically nullifies presidential election—Labour Party’s Obi

Obi, LP, Atiku, and PDP petitioned the court to annul the election, alleging severe non-compliance with electoral regulations, corruption, and non-qualification.

Obi and Atiku declare victory by claiming a majority of valid ballots.

They also requested a re-election to determine the true winner.

In his final written response to Obi and LP’s petition, Tinubu’s counsel, Chief Wole Olanipekun (SAN), argued that the petitioner’s evidence did not indicate non-compliance and corruption sufficient to annul his election.

He added: “In the very unlikely event that the election of February 25, 2023, is voided, the only candidates constitutionally prescribed to contest any subsequent election shall be the 2nd respondent and the candidate of the PDP who came second, by scoring the next majority of votes in the highest number of states (19 states), to the 1st petitioner’s 16 states, and also coming second by plurality of votes, having scored 6,984,520, far and above 1st petitioner.

“In fact, the petitioners have no locus standi to apply for relief 2, both constitutionally and legally, since he is banned from contesting; legally, because he has no advantage to receive from the stated relief, presuming it is granted,” he added.

Olanipekun, citing several precedents, argued that the court cannot mandate a new election outside the constitution: “The law is clear that ‘a party initiating an action would (only) have locus standi where the reliefs seek would bestow some advantages on such a party.'”

According to him, the only candidates constitutionally prescribed to contest any subsequent election shall be the 2nd respondent and the PDP candidate who came second, by scoring the next majority of votes in the highest number of states (19 states), to the 1st petitioner’s 16 states, and by plurality of votes, having scored 6,984,520, far above the 1st petitioner’s 6,101,533 votes.

Olanipekun argued that “the 1st petitioner is legally precluded from participating in any election, in the extremely rare event that the election on February 25, 2023 is voided” under Section 134(3).

Section 134(3) states: “In default of a candidate duly elected in accordance with subsection (2) of this section, there shall be a second election in accordance with subsection (4) of this section at which the only candidate shall be – (a) The candidate who scored the highest number of votes at any election held in accordance with the said subsection (2) of this section; and (b) One among the remaining candidates who have a majority of votes in the highest number o

Olanipekun rejected the petitioners’ requests to invalidate the election and force INEC to hold a new one since they did not name the candidates.

“Most respectfully, the court cannot impose an order for a new election, outside the Constitution,” he stated.

The learned silk pointed out INEC’s solitary witness’s evidence that Obi’s name was missing from the party’s record (Exhibit RA18) before he became the presidential candidate.

“In any case, the 1st petitioner has failed to comply with the law of the country, by first constituting himself a member of the 2nd petitioner, before going to ostensibly challenge election and even submit a petition,” he said.

Again, the respondents’ lone witness said that Exhibit RA18 does not include the name of the 1st petitioner.

The petition needs to be correctly constructed, and, as such, after the completion of evidence/trial, it is obvious that it does not vest jurisdiction in this honourable court to accept it and, more notably, to award the reliefs requested.

The PDP and its candidate, the NNPP and its candidate, and any evidence acquired during trial become incompetent and inadmissible in the absence of those parties.

Obi Tells Court to Fire Tinubu

Obi also asked the election petition court’s five-member panel not to undermine the February 25 presidential election results.

In his last written presentation in support of his petition, Obi asked the panel to remove the president.

He reminded the panel that the Nigerian Constitution’s adjudication powers were voluntarily given to them by the people. Thus, they must preserve the people’s trust.

In their last written statement, Obi and LP’s lead lawyer, Dr Livy Uzoukwu (SAN), said Tinubu and Shettima’s defence was “devoid of any scintilla of value”.

They requested the tribunal to find the petitioners’ case meritorious and award them their reliefs, including nullifying Tinubu’s victory and declaring them a winner or ordering a new election.

They further contended that the panel’s failure to fire Tinubu for suspected Constitutional violations was a dereliction of duty and that the justices should follow the Supreme Court of Kenya, which annulled President Uhuru Kenyatta’s victory due to corruption.

“In conclusion, may we respectfully commend to your lordships the words on the marble of the Supreme Court in the case of Raila Odinga and Anor V Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission and Others (2017) KESC 31 (KLR) para, 399, when ex-cathedra said, ‘13991, what of the argument that this court should not subvert the will of the people? Article 1(3)c of the same constitution assigned sovereign authority to this court. Kenyans gave it all its powers, even invalidating a presidential election. We cannot accept the temptation to wield that granted authority and ignore constitutional infractions dishonestly.

“Therefore, however burdensome, let the majesty of the constitution reverberate across the lengths and breadths of our hills and mountains; let it serenade our households from the trees; let it sprout from our institutions of learning; let it toll from our sanctums of prayer; and to those who bear the responsibility of leadership, let it be a constant irritant,” Obi and LP told the panel.

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