Atiku, Obi challenge PEPC's verdict

Atiku, Obi challenge PEPC’s verdict

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The People’s Democratic Party (PDP) and the Labour Party are pursuing a legal challenge against the judgement of the Presidential Election Petition Court (PEPC) regarding the 2023 Nigerian presidential election.

Justice Haruna Tsammani led the panel that, on September 6, 2023, dismissed the joint petition filed by Atiku and the PDP and upheld the declaration of Bola Ahmed Tinubu as the winner of the February 25, 2023, presidential election.

Atiku and his party, in a Notice of Appeal, hinged on 35 grounds, insisted that the lower court, in its judgment delivered by Justice Tsammani, committed a grave error and miscarriage of justice in its findings and conclusion in their petition challenging the declaration of Tinubu as President by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC).

The Notice of Appeal just filed by the lead counsel to the appellants, Chief Chris Uche (SAN), is praying the Supreme Court to set aside the whole findings and conclusions of the PEPC on the grounds that they did not represent the true picture of the grounds of his petition.

Among other claims, the former Vice President and his party maintained that the lower court erred in law when it failed to nullify the presidential election held on February 25, 2023, on the grounds of non-compliance with the Electoral Act, 2022.

According to the appellants, INEC conducted the election based on grave and gross misrepresentation, contrary to the principles of the Electoral Act 2022, based on the “doctrine of legitimate expectation”.

The appellants told the apex court that it was not in dispute that INEC failed to electronically transmit the results of the presidential election from polling units to both the collation system and the I-Rev on the day of the election.

They added that the bypass of the use of the prescribed verification technology was nationwide, affecting the entire polling units and collation of results all over the country and substantially affecting the outcome of the presidential poll.

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Atiku and the PDP emphasised that the failure to comply with the said prescription of the electronic transmission of the results of the said election in the polling units by the presiding officers amounts to non-compliance with the provisions of Section 60(5) and Section 64(4) and (5) of the Electoral Act, 2022.

They also highlighted that the PEPC erred in law when it refused to uphold the mandate of electronic transmission of results for confirmatory and verification of final results introduced by the Electoral Act, 2022, for transparency and integrity of results in accordance with the principles of the Act.

They held that Section 60(5) of the Electoral Act makes it mandatory for presiding officers to transfer election results in the polling units together with the total number of accredited voters in such a manner as INEC may determine.

Regarding the requirement of one-quarter of votes scored in the Federal Capital Territory, Abuja, the appellants stated that the PEPC erred in law by holding that a candidate shall be deemed to have been duly elected even if he fails to secure 25 per cent of the votes cast in the FCT, Abuja.

They also noted that the PEPC erred in law by striking out the witness statements on oath and the entire evidence of the appellants’ subpoenaed witnesses.

The appellants want the apex court to allow their appeal, set aside the September 6, 2023, judgement of the lower court in petition number CA/PEPC/05/2023, and grant all the reliefs and/or their alternative reliefs.

They want the apex court to hold that Tinubu was not duly elected by a majority of lawful votes cast in the presidential election, and therefore, Tinubu’s declaration and return by INEC as the winner of the presidential election are unlawful, wrongful, unconstitutional, null and void, and of no effect.

In the alternative, the appellants want the order of the apex court directing INEC to conduct a rerun election between Atiku and Tinubu.

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In a further alternative, Atiku and his party want the Supreme Court to nullify the February 25 presidential election, order a fresh election, and make any other order that the court may seem fit to make in the interest of justice.

The apex court has yet to fix a date for the hearing of the appeal, dated September 18, 2023.

On a parallel track, the Labour Party and its presidential candidate, Peter Gregory Obi, have filed an appeal listing 51 legal grounds.

In a statement signed by the National Publicity Secretary of the Labour Party, Pastor Obiora Ifoh, the Labour Party and its presidential candidate said President Bola Ahmed Tinubu did not win the February 25 Presidential election.

The Labour Party, in the statement, said, Obi, the Labour Party land at the Supreme Court lists 51 grounds against the Judgement of Justice Tsammani’s PEPC.”

It also said that it has begun the “final legal battle for the contentious February 25th, 2023 Presidential Election, which begins with the Labour Party Presidential Candidate, Peter Gregory Obi, and the Labour Party filing an appeal against the September 6, 2023, ruling of the Presidential Election Petition Court, PEPC.

“Obi and LP’s team of lawyers led by Dr Livy Uzokwu SAN beat the deadline for the filing of the Appeal and are approaching the apex court on 51 grounds, which they termed an error in law, to prove that the All Progressives Congress, APC Presidential Candidate in the election, Bola Ahmed Tinubu, did not win the election.

The Labour Party further stated that “it was wrong for both INEC and the PEPC to declare him the winner of the election when many incontrovertible points were proving otherwise.

“In their reliefs, Obi and the Labour Party sought from the apex court four key points: Allow the Appeal, set aside the perverse Judgement of the PEPC, and grant the Reliefs sought in the petition, either in the main or in the alternative.

“On the issue of the 25% requirement for Abuja, Obi and the Labour Party listed the particulars of the error by the PEPC as follows: The PEPC failed to appreciate that for the President to assume the office or position of Governor of Abuja, he is also under a mandate to secure 25% of the votes cast in the FCT.

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“They also accused the PEPC of overlooking the fuller purport of Section 299, which will be more glaring on a calm examination of Section 301 of the constitution.

The statement signed by Pastor Obiorah said, “No date yet has been fixed for the hearing of the case.”

It would be recalled that the Presidential candidate of the Labour Party has said in Onitsha that he has instructed his lawyers to petition the Supreme Court over the judgement that did not favour the Labour Party on its petition before the Presidential Election Tribunal that the All Progressives Congress (APC) and its candidate did not win the February 25 Presidential election.


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