Presidential Tribunal: Atiku, PDP, File Final Written Address, Asks Court On The Alternative To Nullify Previous Election And Order Fresh Election

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Former Vice President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, Alhaji Atiku Abubakar, and the opposition party, the People’s Democratic Party (PDP), have file their final written address challenging the victory of the President of Nigeria, Muhammadu Buhari at the February, 2019 presidential polls.
In the address dated the 14th day of August, 2019, in response to that filed by the president, the petitioners have formulated five issues for determination which are:
whether the 2nd Respondent was at the time of the Election not qualified to contest the Election; whether the 2nd Respondent submitted to the 1st Respondent affidavit containing false information of a fundamental nature in aid of his qualification for the said election; whether from the pleadings and evidence led it was established that the 2nd Respondent was duly elected by majority of lawful votes cast at the election; whether the presidential election conducted by the 1st Respondent on 23rd February, 2019, was invalid by reason of corrupt practices; whether the presidential election conducted by the 1st Respondent on the 23rd of February, 2019 was invalid by reason of non-compliance with the Electoral Act, 2010 (as amended) and that the Electoral Guidelines 2019 and Manuals issued for the conduct of the elections.
Treating the first issue, the petitioners submit that the 2nd Respondent (Buhari) was not qualified to contest the presidential election because he failed to satisfy the mandatory requirements of section 131 (d) of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria. According to their argument, to qualify, the Second Respondent must produce his primary School Certificate or Secondary School Certificate or Officer Cadet and depose to an affidavit that he has fulfilled all the constitutional requirements.
Although the Respondents had argued that Buhari possessed other credentials, the petitioners argued that they were not contained in the information submitted to the 1st Respondent as to qualify him to contest the election. Moreso, it was argued that officer cadet is not a qualification or certificate under the Constitution and the Electoral Act.
The petitioners also countered the argument of Buhari which is that his certificates are in the custody of the Secretary to the Army Board. The petitioners argued that Buhari’s witnesses all supported the case of the petitioner, one of who is one Paul Chabri Tarfa, a retired Major-General and classmate of Buhari who testified that they did not submit their certificates to the Nigerian army as there was no such thing.
Disputing further, they also said that the attitude of INEC in holding forth for Buhari tantamount to undue partisanship:
“Surprisingly, the 1st Respondent which did not call any evidence and which is the electoral umpire preferred to weep louder than the bereaved in its final address dated and filed on 7th August, 2019, by holding forth and canvassing arguments on behalf of the 2nd Respondent with respect to the two issues under consideration. Indeed, the 1st Respondent devoted pages 27-35 of its Final Address on the issue of non-qualification of the 2nd Respondent and giving false information in aid of INEC. It our humble contention that the attitude of the 1st Respondent in holding forth for the 2nd Respondent at pages 27-35 of its Final Address aforesaid is tantamount to undue partisanship and as an index of its baise in the electoral process.”
Citing plethora of cases, and the relevant statutory authorities, in support of other issues raised, the petitioners humbly urged the court to resolve the issues in their favour and thereupon grant their main reliefs, but that in the event that the court is not inclined to do so, they urged the Court to grant the alternative relief by nullifying the election to the office of President of Nigeria held on the 23rd February, 2019 and order fresh election.
The reasons anchored by the petitioner in support are that the 2nd Respondent was at the time of the election not qualified to contest the election; that the 2nd Respondent submitted to the 1st Respondent an affidavit containing the false information of a fundamental nature in aid of his qualification for the said election vide from CF001 tendered in evidence as Exhibit P1; that indeed the 2nd Respondent does not possess any of the certificates claimed in Form CF001 which were allegedly with the Secretary to the Army having regard to the unequivocal denial of the Nigerian Army vide Exhibits at P24 and P80; that ironically, none of the witnesses called by the 2nd Respondent presented any certificate before the Honourable Court as belonging to the 2nd Respondent.
Also that RW1 disowned and disclaimed 2nd Respondent’s claim that the Nigerian Army collected their certificate at the time of recruitment, and that by reason of the foregoing, all votes purportedly cast for the 2nd Respondent during the Presidential election are deemed wasted votes; that from the preponderance of evidence led, it was established that the 2nd Respondent was not duly elected by the majority of lawful votes cast at the election; that the petitioners equally led evidence to the effect that the Presidential Election conducted by the 1st Respondent was not only invalid by reason of corrupt practices but also invalid for non-compliance with the Electoral Act, 2010 (as amended) and the Electoral Guidelines 2019 and Manuals issued for the election; and that the 1st Respondent abandoned its pleading by not calling any evidence and as such no answer to the petition.
Recall that the PDP and Atiku Abubakar had dragged the Independent National Electoral Commission and President Buhari to Court, contesting the alleged victory of the President at the poll. Atiku had among others claimed that President Buhari was not qualified to contest the election, since he did not produce his said certificates to the Independent body.
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