Mr. Peter Obi, the Candidate of the Labour Party, LP, who alleged that the presidential election that held on February 25 was rigged in favour of President Bola Tinubu of the ruling All Progressives Congress, APC, on Friday, closed his case, Vanguard reports.
Obi, who came third in the presidential contest, closed his case after he tendered several documentary evidence and called a total of 13 witnesses that testified before the Presidential Election Petition Court, PEPC, sitting in Abuja.
Among exhibits he tendered before the court included polling unit results from 36 states of the federation and the Federal Capital Territory, FCT, Abuja, as well as bundle of documents containing the total number of Permanent Voters Card, PVCs, that were collected in 32 states prior to the 2023 general elections.
Aside from tendering four video exhibits, one of which was a press conference, where the Chairman of the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, Prof. Mahmoud Yakubu, assured that results of the election would be electronically transmitted to the IReV portal in real-time using the Bimodal Voter Accreditation System, BVAS, machines, Obi and his party, equally tendered bundle of documents that contained the total number of registered voters in each of the states.
Other electoral documents the court admitted in evidence were certified true copies of INEC Forms EC40Gs; EC40G1; EC40GPU, which were reports of various polling units where elections did not hold.
All the Respondents had challenged the admissibility of all the documents in evidence, saying they would adduce reasons behind their objections in their final written address.
Meanwhile, though the Petitioners initially told the court that they would call a total of 50 witnesses to testify in the matter, however, they closed their case on Friday with the testimony of the 13th witness.
Earlier in the proceeding, Mr. Tanko Yunusa, who testified as the 12th witness, told the court that he served as the Chief Spokesman of the Labour Party Presidential Election Council as well as the National Director of Media in the party.
While being cross-examined by counsel to the INEC, Mr. Kemi Pinhero, SAN, the witness, told the court that during the presidential poll, he voted at Dawaki district of Abuja and afterwards went to LP’s Election Situation Room at Asokoro.
He told the court that he subsequently returned back to his polling unit to observe the counting of votes.
Mr. Yunusa told the court that his party filed several suits before the general elections, even as he identified a copy of the judgement of the Federal High Court in Abuja marked: FHC/ABJ/CS/1454/2022, which was delivered on January 23, 2023.
The certified true copy of the said judgement which was a case the LP filed against INEC before the general elections, was admitted in evidence as Exhibit S1.
In page two of the judgement which the witness was asked to read, in the open court, the LP had as party of its reliefs, sought to compel INEC to electronically transmit results of the general elections.
However, in the concluding part of the judgement, all the reliefs that were sought by the party were refused as the high court held that nothing in the Electoral Act stipulated how INEC should transmit election results.
The high court, while dismissing the suit, further held that INEC was at liberty to prescribe the manner the election results should be transmitted.
Meanwhile, when the witness was shown copies of some results of the presidential election and asked to read out the scores that were recorded for both the LP and APC, he said the documents were blurred and badly mutilated.
He equally told the court that from the 105 paragraphed affidavit he deposed in his statement on oath in support of the petition, he did not state any figure to indicate the number of unlawful votes that were credited to PresidentTinubu and the APC.
Mr Yunusa further told the court that though there are 176, 974 polling units in the country, his party, deployed a total of 133, 000 agents to monitor the elections.
Answering questions from Tinubu’s lawyer, Chief Wole Olanipekun, SAN, the witness, told the court that he was formerly the Chairman of National Conscience Party, NCP, before it was deregistered by INEC.
He told the court that he joined the LP on May 20, 2022, before Obi, adding that the party held its primary election on May 30, 2022.
While insisting that votes were allocated to all the presidential candidates by INEC, the witness, said: “If the results were uploaded as required by the law, my party would have gotten more votes than what was allocated to us.”
He told the court that his wish was for the entire result of the election to be voided, including the votes “allocated” to the presidential candidate of his party, Obi.
Asked to confirm that Obi scored about 95.07 percent of votes in Anambra state, the witness, said: “I have not seen it.”
Continuing, he said: “We are not satisfied with the outcome of election, that is why we are here in court. How do we know the actual votes we got when the results are yet to be uploaded on the IReV portal, four months after the election held,” he queried.
The witness told the court that unlawful votes were credited to President Tinubu by INEC.
Asked to tell the court the total figure of votes that were unlawfully allocated to Tinubu, the witness, said: “Our expert witness has already presented the figures in his evidence before this court. I am not a mathematician and I am not good in calculations.”
When he was asked what he wanted the court to do with results that were scored by Alhaji Atiku Abubakar of the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, who came second in the election, the witness, said: “We are challenging the entire results of the election and if they are cancelled, it affects results that were allocated to all the candidates, including votes scored by Atiku.”
Yunusa had earlier in his evidence-in-chief, told the court that over 18, 088 results of the presidential election that INEC uploaded to its IReV portal, were blurred.
Shortly after he was discharged by the court, the Petitioners called their 13th witness, Peter Emmanuel Yari, who told the court that he was summoned through a subpoena.
Yari told the court that he served as a Presiding Officer in Kaduna State during the presidential election, adding that though he was trained by INEC, he had problem with the accreditation of voters using the BVAS machines.
He also told the court that another major problem he had on the election day was the uploading of results with the BVAS.
The PW-13 said he collated results of the election manually, after which he called his Supervisory Polling Officer, SPO, who directed him to take the result to his Ward Collation Center.
The witness told the court that aside from himself, agents of all the political parties signed and collected copies of the result.
After he concluded his testimony and was discharged from the witness box, the Petitioners’ lead counsel, Dr. Livy Uzoukwu, SAN, announced that his clients would close their case at that point.
“My lords, with due respect, that is the case of the Petitioners,” Dr. Uzoukwu, SAN, stated.
Following agreement of all the parties, the Justice Tsammani-led led panel adjourned the case till July 3 for INEC to open its defence to the petition.
Cited as 1st to 4th Respondents in the matter are; INEC, President Tinubu, Vice President Kashim Shettima and the APC.
It will be recalled that the LP candidate had approached the court to challenge the declaration of President Tinubu of the APC as winner of the presidential contest.
Obi, in the joint petition he filed with his party, maintained that President Tinubu was not the valid winner of the election.
The petitioners, in their case marked: CA/PEPC/03/2023, equally contended that President Tinubu was not qualified to participate in the presidential poll.
According to the petitioners, as at the time Tinubu’s running mate, Shettima, became the Vice Presidential candidate, he was still the nominated candidate of the APC for the Borno Central Senatorial election.
The petitioners further challenged Tinubu’s eligibility to contest the presidential election, alleging that he was previously indicted and fined the sum of $460,000.00 by the United States District Court, Northern District of Illinois, Eastern Division, in Case No: 93C 4483, for an offence involving dishonesty and drug trafficking.
On the ground that the election was invalid by reason of corrupt practices and non- compliance with the provision of Electoral Act, 2022, the petitioners argued that INEC acted in breach of its own Regulations and Guidelines.
The Petitioners argued that the electoral body was in the course of the conduct of the presidential poll, mandatorily required to prescribe and deploy technological devices for the accreditation, verification, continuation and authentication of voters and their particulars as contained in its Regulations.
They are, therefore, praying the court to among other things, declare that all the votes recorded for Tinubu and the APC, were wasted votes owing to his non-qualification/disqualification.
“That it be determined that on the basis of the remaining votes (after discountenancing the votes credited to the 2nd Respondent) the 1st Petitioner (Obi) scored a majority of the lawful votes cast at the election and had not less than 25% of the votes cast in at least 2/3 of the States of the Federation, and the Federal Capital Territory, Abuja, and satisfied the constitutional requirements to be declared the winner of the 25th February 2023 presidential election.
“That it be determined that the 2nd Respondent having failed to score one-quarter of the votes cast at the presidential election in the Federal Capital Territory, Abuja, was not entitled to be declared and returned as the winner of the presidential election held on 25th February, 2023.
In the alternative, the petitioners, want an order cancelling the election and compelling INEC to conduct a fresh election at which Tinubu, Shettima and the APC, listed as 2nd, 3rd and 4th Respondents, respectively, shall not participate.
They urged the court to declare that since Tinubu was not duly elected by a majority of the lawful votes cast in the election, therefore, his return as the winner of the presidential election, was unlawful, unconstitutional and of no effect whatsoever.
In a further alternative prayer, the petitioners want the court to hold that the presidential election was void on the ground that it was not conducted substantially in accordance with the provisions of the Electoral Act 2022, and the 1999 Constitution, as amended.
Likewise, they applied for an order, “cancelling the presidential election conducted on 25th February 2023 and mandating the 1st Respondent to conduct a fresh election for the President, the Federal Republic of Nigeria.”