Presidential Election Tribunal: Buhari’s victory upheld

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Okay with his WASC, Atiku’s citizenship, INEC server issues

 THE Presidential Election Petition Tribunal (P.E.P.T) sitting in Abuja, yesterday, dismissed the petition filed by People’s Democratic Party (PDP) and its candidate, Atiku Abubakar challenging Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC)’s verdict that declared All Progressives Congress (APC) candidate, President Muhammadu Buhari as winner of the February 23 presidential election.

Dismissing the petition entirely in its marathon judgement which was read by Justice Garba Mohammed, the five-member tribunal ruled against each of the five arguments by PDP and Atiku, holding that the petitioners failed to prove their petition beyond reasonable doubt as required under Electoral Act.

According to the tribunal, Atiku and PDP provided no evidence back their claim of massive non-compliance of the 2019 presidential election with Electoral Act and other electoral guidelines across the nation.

Citing some of the claims contained in Atiku’s petition to include “none holding of elections in some polling units, cancellation of results, over-voting, inflation and deflation of votes among other things,” Justice Mohammed stated that petitioners did not discharge their duty to prove all the allegations which are criminal in nature beyond reasonable doubt, apart from failure to call the polling unit agents who would have testified to the fact that they were arrested, harassed or affected by the violence pictured by the petitioners.

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“The petitioners pleaded that so many of their agents were situated in various polling units and that members of the first respondents connived with security agents to conduct massive rigging.

Like I had mentioned, there is no admissible evidences to link the witnesses with the allegations of non-compliance to the Electoral Act or of corruption. They also alleged that no real voting took place in Dekina Local Government Area, among others. But no evidence, again, came forward to prove this allegation,” Mohammed said.

Also in its judgement, the tribunal struck out argument by APC that Atiku was not a Nigerian by birth, saying its power does not include determining qualifications of a petitioner in an election dispute. This is an issue the panel held that the respondents ought to file a cross-petition against the qualification of Abubakar for the February 23 presidential poll and not to use it as a defence.

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It will be recalled that in response to Atiku’s petition seeking Buhari’s disqualification, Buhari and APC had claimed that Jada, the birthplace of Atiku, was still a Cameroonian territory and not part of northern Nigeria in 1946, when he gave out as his birth year.

While ruling that President Buhari was eminently qualified to contest the election, the tribunal equally dismissed PDP and Atiku’s prayer to disqualify Buhari on the ground that he did not possess a valid West African School Certificate (WASC) at the time he stood for the election.

According to the tribunal, even evidence presented by Atiku and PDP showed that Buhari does not only have WASC, but also possesses more academic qualifications that made him over-qualified to run in the election.

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Continuing, the tribunal also declared that there is no evidence that INEC transmitted the results of the last presidential election electronically to any server, adding that petitioners failed to prove the existence of an INEC server or that the electoral commission transmitted results electronically.

“I have carefully examined and examined Exhibit 28 (INEC Manual for Election) tendered by the petitioners, I did not see where there is provision for electronic transmission of result of election,” Justice Mohammed Garba said.

 

 

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