Tribunal reserves judgment on Atiku’s petition against Tinubu’s victory

The presidential election petition court has reserved judgment in the petition filed by Atiku Abubakar, candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP).

To reserve judgment means to hold the matter in abeyance for a while until a date is fixed for the final verdict.

Atiku is challenging the outcome of the February 25 election and praying the court to nullify President Bola Tinubu’s victory.

Among several issues raised in the joint petition, Atiku and the PDP are alleging that Tinubu was not qualified to contest the poll.

They claim that the president was indicted for drug trafficking in the United States, that his academic certificates submitted to INEC were forged, and that Tinubu is a citizen of Guinea.

The petitioners also accused INEC of manipulating the poll to favour Tinubu.

The petitioners closed their case on June 23 after calling 27 witnesses.

The tribunal had adjourned the petition after Tinubu, Vice-President Kashim Shettima and the All Progressives Congress (APC) closed their defence on July 5.

The court had directed parties in the petition to write, file and exchange their final written addresses.

At the resumed session on Tuesday, parties in the suit adopted their final addresses which summarises all the evidence tendered before the court.

 

‘THROW THIS PETITION AS FAR AS YOUR HANDS CAN CARRY’

While adopting his final address, Abubakar Mahmoud, counsel to INEC, said the main kernel of the petitioners’ case “is around the non-compliance with the provision of the electoral act”.

“While I agree that the use of technology is to enhance transparency…evidence adduced by the petitioners themselves shows the good intentions of INEC to conduct a credible, free and fair election to which they sought to deploy credible technology.

“There is no electronic collation system prescribed by the commission. Collation remained manual.

“They failed woefully to establish that the glitch on IReV was caused by human interference and that it affected the outcome of the election.”

Finally, Mahmoud said the argument that winning 25% of votes in the FCT is a requirement for winning the election “is absurd”.

On the issue of dual citizenship, Lateef Fagbemi, APC counsel, told the court that the constitution provides that a Nigerian citizen by birth cannot be disqualified from contesting in the presidential poll.

He however noted that the president holds no other citizenship.

Fagbemi said the issue of dual citizenship has already been settled by various courts as well as the supreme court in Oyetola Vs INEC & Others.

Addressing the issue of disqualification on the grounds of indictment on drug trafficking, the senior lawyer said Tinubu never faced a criminal allegation in the United States.

“The forfeiture proceedings do not fit into the prescription of qualification,” he said.

“It is not a disqualifying factor. No evidence of arraignment or pleadings. It was a civil forfeiture proceedings.”

He prayed the court to “throw this petition as far as your hands can carry because it has failed in both its roots and branches”.

The petitioners urged the court to uphold their case.

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