The Presidential Election Petition Tribunal sitting at the court of appeal Abuja has reserved judgment in the petition filed by the Peoples Democratic Party and its presidential candidate Atiku Abubakar.
The five-man panel of judges led by Justice Haruna Tsammani adjourned the matter for judgement at a date that would be communicated to all parties and called urged for prayers for Nigeria, after all parties adopted their final arguments on Tuesday.
In his final argument, counsel to the Independent National Electoral Commission , Abubakar Mahmoud sought the dismissal of the petition as completely lacking in merit. He argued that the major plank of petitioner’s petition is noncompliance to the electorate Act which centres on the use of technology.
While acknowledging that technology was introduced to enhance the credibility, Mahmoud said its evidence before the court showed that all of the technological innovations around the accreditation and authentication was effective. He said all the data was stored on the Amazon Web services , which evidence before the court shows that it is the most secured and guarded publicly available cloud services in the world .
According to him, the evidence before the court shows clearly the good and clear intentions of the first respondent (INEC) to conduct free and fair elections.
Mahmoud stressed that there is no such things as electronic collation system as believed by the petitioners. He argued that though INEC deployed technology, the electoral Act 2022 did not change or alter the prescription of manual collation.
“On transmission, we agree there was a glitch, where we differ is the source and consequence of the glitch . It is an unfortunate occurrence which disrupted the real time upload for 4 hours 50 minutes. They said it is human interference but failed woefully to establish that there was human interference. No electronic collation, it essentially remained manual throughout the electioneering process . They failed to show that the glitch affected the outcome of the election. The petitioners constructed certain things in their minds to which they failed to prove,” he said.
On 25% for the Federal Capital Territory, INEC’s lawyer said the petitioners interpretation that one must get 25% is illogical and would lead to an absurdity; and goes contrary to the provisions of the Constitution.
He argued that it will create a situation where FCT voters would be given special status above other Nigerians living in other states and FCT must be treated as if it were a state.
Wole Olanipekun, counsel to President Bola Tinubu, the second respondent in Atiku’s petition asked the Tribunal to dismiss the petition as lacking in merit.
He argued that uploading results to the IMEC result viewing portal whether manually or electronically plays no role in collation of results which is achieved at the polling units. He insured that collation is primarily physical and manual.
According to him, the petitioners abandoned their petition and have become meddlesome interlopers as they could not even in single line of their final address state how many votes Atiku actually scored.
On 25% for FCT, Olanipekun also argued that it would lead to absurdity if the 199 Constitution is ready deductively and not as a whole. He instated that FCT is the 37ty state in the presidential election.
He further argued that even though the election in FCT is cancelled, it is still not enough to affect the entire election.
Lateef Fagbemi, counsel to the All Progressives Congress listed as the third respondent argued that all points agitated oj Atiku’s petition have received judicial pronouncement and resolution such as the supreme Court judgement on double nomination of vice president Kashim Shettima.
He continued by saying though the petitioners are arguing noncompliance with the electoral Act with regards to electronic transmission of results, but said not one of the witnesses called throughout the proceedings say the elections did not take place, or disagreed with the result.
“They didn’t dispute the figures reeled out. None of them said result was not collated. The worse of it all, no one presented an alternative figure of the result”, Fagbemi said.
On the issue of qualification, Fagbemi said the forfeiture in a US court proceedings does not fit into the prescription of qualification. In other words, its is not a disqualifying factor adding that there was no evidence of arraignment or charge.
The counsel further said the alleged forfeiture took place over 30 years and should be forgiven in line with the Constitution.
“There is forgiveness in the Constitution”, he said
He added that Tinubu cannot be disqualified even if he has citizenship for another country. Also, he argued that there has been no testimony from Chicago state University disclaiming Tinubu’s certificate of studentship.
“My Lords, I urge you to throw this petition as far as your hands can carry because it has failed both in roots, stem and branches”, he said.
While adopting his final address, Chris Uche, counsel to the petitioners argued that the election result was successfully transmitted in real time for the National Assembly result, but was not transmitted but for presidential election which proves that the technology was deliberately manipulated.
“It is our submission that it was a deliberate bypass. They said it lasted four 4 hours, but witnesses said up till March 1 results were still not uploaded.
“We urge your Lordships to hold that there was a deliberate non-compliance and the shut down was nationwide.
On 25% for FCT, Uche maintained that the Constitution created 36 states, and that the first respondent (INEC) in their reply law admitted clearly that 25% is a mandatory constitutional provision.
On Fagbemi’s submission, Uche said even if there is forgiveness, there must be punishment.
He further prayed the court to accord the European Union report on the election, strike out all replies of the respondents, and grant all the reliefs of the petitioners.
“The fact that there is no precedents in annulment of elections does not mean it cannot be done.
Justice Tsammani then reserved Judgement to a date that will be communicated to all parties. One of the judges said the court will look unto all that is before the court and urged all to pray for Nigeria.