The Presidential Election Petition Court has dismissed the case filed by Labour candidate, Peter Gregory Obi against the victory of President Bola Ahmed Tinubu.
In a five-hour marathon reading of the panel’s ruling on the substantive case filed by the defeated Labour candidate, Justice Haruna Tsammani said the case lacked material facts and unmeritorious.
He also said 10 of the 13 witnesses who gave evidence were rejected for not being frontloaded with the petition, thus violating section 285 of the Nigerian constitution, section 137(7) of the Electoral Act 2022.
The law specifically states all evidence accompanying a petition must be filed within 21 days.
Justice Tsammani said by virtue of section 285 of the Nigerian constitution, section 137(7) of the Electoral Act 2022, and other provisions, every witness statement on oath must be filed along with the petition.
He said that based on the Supreme Court authority, once the 21 days window for filing an election petition lapses, the content of the petition cannot be amended.
The presidential election court also rejected the reports of forensic analyses tendered by the three witnesses of the Labour Party for either being made during the pendency of the case or made by an interested party who would benefit from the outcome of the petitions.
The court rejected the European Union report on the 25 February presidential election on the grounds that they were not tendered by an official of the body which is the author and has the custody of the document.
The court upheld the respondents’ objection to the admissibility of evidence tendered by Mr Obi’s web engineer, Mpeh Ogar, regarding a technical glitch observed on INEC Results Viewing portal on the election day.
The judge held that Ms Ogar was an interested party in the petition having vied for elective office at the polls on the platform of the Labour.
The court trashed all the issues raised by Obi and his party to disqualify Tinubu and Shettima and nullify their election
The court ruled that both Tinubu and Shettima were qualified to contest the election.
Justice Tsammani said INEC’s failure to upload the result of the election on iRev did not invalidate the election as INEC can do so anyhow it wants.
He said both the Electoral Act and INEC regulations provide for manual collation of results. Electronic transmission is at best optional, he added.
Justice Tsammani quoting previous court orders said INEC cannot be compelled to transmit the results of the election electronically.
On the $460,000 alleged narcotics money forfeited by Tinubu in the US in 1993, the tribunal said the Illinois case was a civil forfeiture case, not a criminal one.
Justice Tsammani said from the evidence before the court, Tinubu was not convicted, sentenced, arraigned and did not take any plea before the court in the US.
Justice Tsammani said Obi and his party failed to show substantial non-compliance with the Electoral Act by INEC in declaring Tinubu as winner of the 25 February election.
Justice Tsammani also rubbished the position of Obi that Tinubu must win 25 percent of the votes in the FCT. He said the view presents a parochial interpretation of the Nigerian constitution.
Some Issues Trashed by Justice Tsammani:
*Allegation of double nomination against Vice-President Kashim Shettima was false
*Mr Tinubu was qualified to contest the 25 February election
*10 out of 13 witnesses of Peter Obi not competent to testify as they were not frontloaded in compliance with the law
*EU report on the outcome of the 2023 election inadmissible. It needed to be tendered by EU, the author of the document.
*The reports tendered by Mr Obi’s expert witnesses useless.
*The US court forfeiture Tinubu’s $460,000 does not disqualify him from running for the presidency.
*Failure of INEC to upload the copies of polling unit results to IReV real time does not invalidate the election.
*INEC is not bound to transmit election results electronically.
*No evidence to show that INEC deliberately refused to upload copies of polling unit results to IReV to manipulate it.
* Obi fails to prove the allegations that INEC failed to comply with the Electoral Act in the conduct of the election.
*No solid evidence to back allegations of suppression of votes, wrong computation of results, manipulation of results, and inflation of results, corrupt practices.
*Insistence that Tinubu must win 25 per cent of votes in the FCT a parochial interpretation of section 134(2) of the Nigerian constitution and also fallacious.