Tribunal strikes out INEC’s applications
The presidential election petition tribunal Wednesday dismissed a preliminary objection filed by Independent National Electoral Commission seeking the nullification of the opposition People’s Democratic Party’s petition on the ground that Vice President Yemi Osinbajo was not joined as an interested party in the petition.
The court held that the vice president is not a necessary party in an election petition, noting that he is attached to the candidate, so he and the president wins or lose together.
“It is the conclusion in the judgment that running mates to an election is not a necessary party,” the chairman of the tribunal Garba Mohammed said.
Mohammed said the candidate and the political party who participated in the election are the necessary parties to the petition.
His decision was upheld by all members of the five-man tribunal.
The tribunal also dismissed INEC’s motion seeking the nullification of the Atiku’s petition, claiming that the petition was signed by a person not competent to do so.
The presidential candidate of the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) Atiku Abubakar is challenging the election result which INEC declared President Muhammadu Buhari the winner.
INEC chairman Mahmood Yakubu said Buhari polled 15,191,847 votes to defeat Atiku, who polled 11,262,978 votes.
However, Atiku and the PDP said the election was ‘massively’ rigged.
During tribunal hearings, Atiku and the PDP contended with the election results that the data obtained from INEC’s server showed that they polled a total of 18,356,732 votes to defeat Buhari whom they said scored 16,741,430 votes.
INEC, however, said that it had no server where the election results were transmitted during the February 23 presidential election.
They also alleged that Buhari lied on oath when he claimed that he had three certificates but could not produce even a photocopy to support his Form CF 001, submitted to INEC during clearance.
Atiku and PDP had also alleged irregularities, including intimidation of electorate as well as alteration of election results during and after the election, respectively.
Atiku called 62 witnesses out of the 400 initially penciled to buttress his claims.
On the other hand, Buhari called six. However, both INEC and APC did not call any witness. Counsel to INEC, Yunus Usman (SAN), told the tribunal that it was not necessary to call witnesses, having extracted useful information from evidence given by the petitioners’ witnesses.
But INEC’s lawyer debunked the use of the electronic devices in the conduct of the election.
Atiku’s lawyers led by Livy Uzoukwu, in addition to calling 62 witnesses, also tendered some documents, including Form CF 001, where President Muhammadu Buhari supplied his personal information to INEC for clearance to enable him to stand for the February 23 Presidential election.
In the said Form CF 001, President Buhari claimed that he has three certificates, including Primary School Leaving Certificate, West African School Certificate, as well as the Cadet Officer Certificate. But he did not attach copies of the said documents to his form.
His explanation, however, was that in 1962 when he joined the Nigerian Army, he and his colleagues were ordered to submit all their original certificates to the Nigerian Army Board.
Buhari’s lawyer, Wale Olanipekun (SAN), said that evidence cleared the doubt over his client’s certificate controversies.
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