THE presidential candidate of the Labour Party (LP), Mr Peter Obi and his party have filed a petition at the Presidential Election Petition Tribunal sitting at the Court of Appeal in Abuja, challenging the declaration of the presidential candidate of the All Progressive Congress (APC), Senator Bola Ahmed Tinubu as the winner of the Febru- ary 25 presidential election.
The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), which conducted the presidential election de- clared Tinubu winner, having polled a total of 8,794,726 to defeat his closest rivals and candidates of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Al- haji Atiku Abubakar and Mr Obi, who scored 6,984, 520 and 6,101,533 respectively.
INEC chairman, Professor Mahmood Yakubu, declared Tinubu president-elect on March 1 in Abuja.
Obi and Atiku had called for the cancellation of the results of the election, al- leging malpractices following the electoral umpire’s failure to electronically upload results immediately from its polling units to the INEC Results Viewing Portal.
Obi, who came third in the contest, filed his petition at the registry of the Presidential Election Petition Tribunal, sitting in Abuja on March 20.
In the petition, Obi and his party, the Labour Party, are the petitioners, while INEC, the president-elect, Bola Ahmed Tinubu; Shettima Kashim (vice president-elect) and the APC are respondents.
Setting out the grounds for the petition, Obi’s lead counsel, Livy Ozoukwu (SAN), said Tinubu, at the time of the presidential election, was not qualified to contest for election to the office of President as he was fined the sum of $460, 000 for an offence involving dishonesty, namely narcotics trafficking imposed by United States District Court, Northern District Illinois, Eastern Division in case No. 93C 4483 between the USA verses Funds in three different foreign accounts in the name of Bola Tinubu.
Obi said based on the valid votes cast at the presidential election, he scored the highest number of votes and ought to be declared and re- turned as the winner of the Presidential election.
The petitioners seek, “An order directing INEC to issue Certificate of Return to the first petitioner (Obi) as the duly elected President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.
“That, it be determined that the Certificate of Return wrongly issued to the second respondent (Tinubu) by the first respondent (INEC) is null, void and be set aside,” the petitioners prayed and further argued that the Feb- ruary 25 presidential election is void on the grounds that it was not conducted substantially in accordance with the provisions of the Electoral Act 2022 and the constitution.
Ozoukwu argued that the president-elect, “was not duly elected by majority of the lawful votes cast at the time of the election”, and urged the tribunal to determine that, at the time of the presidential election held on 25 February, 2023, Tinubu and Shettima were not qualified to contest the election.
He prayed the tribunal to determine that all the votes recorded for Tinubu in the election are wasted votes, due to the non-qualification of the president-elect and the vice president elect.
“That it be determined that the 2nd Respondent (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 25 February, 2023.”
Obi and his party, in their petition marked, CA/PEPC/03/2023 equally argued that the February 25 presidential election was invalid by reason of corrupt practices and non-compli- ance with the provision of Electoral Act,2022.
The petitioners prayed the tribunal to make, “an order cancelling the election and compelling the 1st respondent (INEC) to conduct a fresh election at which the 2nd Respondent (Tinubu), 3rd re- spondent (Shettima) and 4th respondent (APC) shall not participate.”
Meanwhile, the Action Alliance, (AA) and the Allied Peoples Movement (APM) have equally lodged separate petitions to challenge the outcome of the presidential election.
In the petition by AA and its presidential candidate, Solomon Okanigbuan, marked: CA/PEPC/01/2023, they are praying the Tribunal to nullify the presidential election by reason of unlawful exclusion of their candidate.
The APM and its presidential candidate, Ojei Princess Chichi in its petition marked: CA/PEPC/04/2023 argued that Tinubu was not quali- fied to contest the election as at the time the election was held.
The party submitted that by the provisions of Section 131(C) and 142 of the constitution And Section 35 of the Electoral Act, 2022, the declaration and return of the 3rd defendant (Tinubu) as the duly elected President are invalid by reason of non com- pliance with the provisions of the constitution and the Electoral Act.
Based on the Act, litigants have 21 days from the conclusion of election to fill their petitions.
Meanwhile, as of 21:50 last night, the Nigerian Tribune gathered that the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and its presidential candidate, Alhaji Atiku Abubakar, has also filed their petition to beat the deadline which closes today.
In the document sighted by the Nigerian Tribune marked CA/PEPC/05/2023, is between Atiku Abubakar and Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) as petitioners and the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), Bola Ahmed Tinubu and the All Progressives Congress (APC) as respondents.
Both the media and legal teams of the campaign council, when contacted, confirmed the “successful filing” of the petition.
“His Excellency, Alhaji Atiku Abubakar and the PDP have successfully filed their petition at the Presidential Elec- tion Petition Court, today, the 21st of March, 2023.”
In another development, the United States Govern ment says it will impose visa sanctions and available actions on those who under- mined the Gubernatorial and State Houses of Assembly elections held on March 18.
The Public Affairs Department of the U.S. Embassy in Abuja disclosed this in a statement on Tuesday.
This is also as the U.S government urged the Nigerian authorities to hold account- able and bring to justice any individuals found to have or- dered or carried out efforts to intimidate voters and suppress voting during the elec- tion process.
The statement read “Nigeria carried out the second round of its electoral process with gubernatorial and state assembly elections on March 18.
“The United States is deeply troubled by the dis- turbing acts of violent voter intimidation and suppression that took place during those polls in Lagos, Kano and other states.
“Members of the U.S. diplomatic mission observed the elections in Lagos and elsewere and witnessed some of these incidents first-hand.
“The use of ethnically charged rhetoric before, dur- ing, and after the guberna- torial election in Lagos was particularly concerning.