President Bola Tinubu and the All Progressives Congress (APC), yesterday, insisted that the presidential candidate of the Labour Party(LP), Peter Obi, not being a member of the party lacks the legal right to challenge the outcome of the February 25 election.
They equally urged the PEPC to bar him from re-contesting if the election is eventually annulled.
In their joint petition, Obi and LP alleged that the presidential poll was rigged against him in about 18,088 polling units (totalling over 2.5 million votes) aside alleged over-voting that took place in parts of the South West. He also alleged that INEC’s failure to upload results to IREV portal in real-time negatively impacted the polls.
But the legal team to Tinubu and Kashim Shettima led by Chief Wole Olanipekun argued that result upload to the IREV was not compulsory and could not have affected collation of the results.
Olanipekun also argued that the Court of Appeal, Lagos division, had ruled against the Labour Party that INEC had the discretion on mode of collation of the election results.
Olanipekun added that Peter Obi has no legal right to challenge the election or be included in a rerun because he is not the second runner up.
He also insisted that Obi was not a member of the Labour Party when he ran for the election and therefore has no legal right to institute the case or be allowed to contest rerun.
On the US Court judgment that ordered Tinubu to forfeit funds suspected to be proceeds of narcotics deals found in his account, Olanipekun noted that the 1999 Constitution states that a conviction has expired after 10 ten years.
On its part,APC lead counsel, Lateef Fagbemi, equally adopted all the oral arguments of Olanipekun.
Fagbemi said Obi’s petition, though ambitious, did not dispute that accreditation, voting and collation of results did not take place.
“If anybody wants to attack any election results, there has to be polling unit by polling unit proof but this is abysmally lacking in this petition,” Fagbemi added.
He said the much-touted issue of rerun as requested (in the alternative) by Obi should be between Tinubu and the presidential candidate of PDP, Atiku Abubakar.
On their part, the legal representatives of INEC led by Abubakar Mahmoud adopted all his written submissions against Obi’s petition on Tuesday.
He said evidence before the court showed that INEC went to a great length to ensure the applications used on Bimodal Voter Accreditation System (BVAS) machine were designed to work perfectly. He contended that the petitioners have contrived in their mind a so called “electronic collation system” without providing any evidence.
He maintained that what was prescribed by the Electoral Act was manual collation process.
He argued that what happened to the BVAS machines on presidential election day was a technical glitch, asking the court to dismiss petitioner’s case of deliberate human interference.
He said INEC Results Viewing Portal IRev was essentially for public viewing and not for collation of results.
“Petitioners have failed to show how the failure to show real-time impacted on the elections,” Mahmoud said.
Mahmoud contended that the arguments of so called 18,088 blurred results on IREV should be discountenanced by the court.
“Those blurred results that was uploaded on IREV, according to the petitioners, did not in any way suggest that the original copies of the result sheets were blurred,” Mahmoud said, adding that Obi have not tendered copies from their LP agents to substantiate their case.
“Their blurred results were simply for dramatization. Those arguments of blurred results hold no issue at all,” Mahmoud said.
On getting 25 percent votes in FCT, Mahmoud said the court must not adopt an approach that will result in absurdity.
He urged the court to declare that FCT is to be treated like every other state, as well as dismiss Obi’s petition.
Regardless, lead counsel to the petitioners, Livy Uzoukwu submitted that the respondents laboured in vain to dispute the relevance of IREV in 2023 election when relevant laws approved of it.
He argued that an election in which 18088 blurred results were uploaded to IREV makes the election fundamentally flawed.
He said INEC issued certified polling unit results to the petitioners and that, out of that number, 8,123 were blurred.
He insisted that INEC ought to have produced original copies of the polling unit results.
Speaking on possible rerun, Uzoukwu said if the election was cancelled, it is Tinubu that ought to be barred from contesting.
On FCT, Uzoukwu said it would be an absurdity to say that 25 percent votes from the country’s capital was not mandatory for anyone vying for to be Nigeria president.
After listening to argument canvassed by both parties, the PEPC headed by Justice Haruna Tsammani reserved judgment in the petition.