July 19 (Newshour.com.ng) – The All Progressives Congress, APC, has submitted their final written address to Court of Appeal claiming that Bola Ahmed Tinubu won the February 25, 2023 presidential election.
They gave a broad introduction, saying Bola Ahmed Tinubu won the election by majority of lawful votes scored which is 8,794,726 as against Peter Obi’s 6,101,533.
They said the petition of LP/Obi was doomed to fail because the testimony of witnesses and evidence attached to their petition were grossly insufficient to sustain the petition.
In their statement of fact relevant to the petition, they stated that the LP/Obi failed to prove the allegations they raised
They mentioned that the 1st respondents (INEC) called one witness while the 2nd and 3rd respondents ( BAT/Shett) also called one witness and they (APC) called none believing that they have proved their case through the cross-examination of the LP/Obi’s witnesses and through the witnesses of INEC, BAT/Shett
They further stated that LP/Obi failed in their attempt to prove their numerous allegations concerning the election which was conducted in substantial compliance with the electoral law in 176,973 polling units, 8,809 wards and 774 LGAs .
They added that 19,000 documents were tendered by LP/Obi from the bar, comprising of all INEC forms including iREV and BVAS reports but that they were dumped in the court without any explanation or demonstration to tie and link the documents to their case in open court.
On the state of pleadings and quality of evidence adduced by the parties, they mentioned that LP/Obi’s petition was anchored on alleged depletion of the his votes through anomalies, over voting, wrongful collation of election results in favour of BAT/Shett , non-transmission and upload to iREV by BVAS and so on.
APC went on to argue that a significant flaw with the LP/Ob’s petition is that the allegations were to a large extent not tied to the units and wards in each LGA of each of the 11 states under challenge in the petition. Instead there were just blanket allegations.
They argued that the LP/Obi called witnesses from only 3 states including the FCT. In total 12 witnesses were called which is insufficient, not credible or substantial in their words.
THEY RAISED 4 ISSUES FOR DETERMINATION
—The first issue addressed nomination of Shettima, and the $460,000 forfeiture of BAT.
On the double nomination, they argued that the LP/Obi alleged that Shett was a senatorial candidate and had not properly withdrawn his candidature before being nominated.
In replying, they relied on Section 33 of the Electoral Act saying withdrawal can be done any time before death. They also relied on the Supreme Court decision in PDP v. INEC where the court held that Shett was merely selected to run as an associate so the issue of double nomination does not arise.
On the issue of the forfeiture, they mentioned that a proceeding that can disqualify a candidate must be first criminal not civil and there was no evidence on record to prove that it was not a civil proceeding. They also mentioned that during cross examination of PW1, the witness admitted that the case was a civil forfeiture case and no certificate of conviction as produced.
—The 2nd issue addressed Non-compliance. They mentioned that it is the law, that noncompliance must be proved polling unit by polling unit and that the non-compliance was substantial enough that it affected the result of the election.
However where criminal allegations such as falsification is made, proof must be beyond reasonable doubt; This is compulsory and LP/Obi failed to do that.
They mentioned that the LP/Obi made heavy ramblings about uploading to iREV, but that the law is settled that uploading does not validate an election.
They mentioned that clause 38 of the INEC regulations connotes that BVAS and iREV technology are permitted in the electoral process where practicable and that duplicate copies are provided to the Nigerian Police Force and agents of political parties if references needs to be made.
They relied on Clause 93 in making this argument. In their words, uploaded result is at best a “back up”.
They further mentioned that no evidence was led by LP/Obi to prove failure to transmit as some of the testimonies were statements from state collation officers who were not present at polling units.
They further mentioned that no witnesses of LP/Obi disputed the validity of the results released at their various polling units or showed how the results were manipulated not to represent what was obtained at the various polling units.
On corrupt practices they mentioned that it must be specifically pleaded and proved beyond reasonable doubt which was not done by the LP/Obi
They also argued that LP/Obi failed to prove how corrupt practices affected the overall outcome of the election results.
—On the 3rd Issue, they argued that the burden of proving that BAT did not score majority of lawful votes cast in each of at least two third of all the states of the federation and the FCT rests on LP/Ob.
They argued that votes that should be credited to LP/Obi and votes that should be deducted from BAT should have been stated but It was not.
Instead LP/Obi just dumped a bunch of CTC documents on the court.
They argued that the so called expert witnesses’ testimonies (PW4 and PW 7) could not be relied on as they are members of the Labour Party.
On the issue of 25% of votes in the FCT, they referred to Section 134(2)(a)&(b) of the 1999 Constitution and mentioned that Abuja voters do not have veto powers simply because they are Abuja residents and that Abuja by the constitution is treated as a State.
—On the 4th issue, they argued that LP/Obi are not entitled to any relief sought as they have not proved enough material facts to justify the grants of those reliefs. They argued that it is trite that it is the duty of the party who alleges to prove.
They also submitted that every registered political party must maintain register of members which must be made available 30 days before date fixed for primaries. Peter Obi was cleared to participate in the PDP primary election but resigned his membership about a month later.
They argued that as at the time Labour Party submitted its register of members to INEC, Peter Obi was not a member, hence the reliefs he is praying for cannot be granted.
They also mentioned that Peter Obi came a distant third and was asking to be declared the winner and yet failed to join Alhaji Atiku Abubakar in his petition. They cited Re: Onwubuariri where the court held that the 1st and 2nd runner up should have been joined since the 3rd runner up was asking to be declared the winner.
They concluded by asking the court to dismiss the petition of LP/Peter Obi.
Credit: Pearls TV