The Presidential Election Petition Tribunal sitting in Abuja has started delivering the much-awaited judgment in the petition filed by Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and its candidate, Atiku Abubakar challenging President Muhammadu Buhari’s victory in the February 23 general election.
Naijaparry reports that the tribunal on Aug.21 reserved judgment in the petition after parties adopted their addresses.
Justice Mohammed Garba, Chairman of the five-man panel of justices had stated that the judgment date would be communicated to parties.
Buhari was declared the winner of the election after scoring 15,191,847 votes as against Atiku’s 11, 262,978 votes.
While submitting his address, Chief Wole Olanipekun, SAN, Counsel for Buhari, had described the petition as a sham as it lacked substance and merit.
“I have handled a few electoral petition cases, this is one petition that yarns for help, for assistance and for evidence but could not get any.
“Apart from the hype the matter has generated, there is nothing in law to support the allegations before the tribunal, Olanipekun said.
On the qualification of the president, Olanipekun said Section 131 (b) had settled that matter.
On the issue of election results transmission by electronic means, the counsel said the use of such technology must be provided for in the Electoral Act.
Lateef Fagbemi, SAN, Counsel for All Progressive Congress (APC) said he could not help but take the liberty to align himself with the submissions made Olanipekun.
Also, Yunus Usman (SAN), counsel for the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) urged the panel to uphold all of its objections raised against the admissibility of all pieces of documentary and oral evidence led by the petitioners.
Usman submitted that the electoral body conducted the Feb.23 presidential election in total compliance with provisions of the Electoral Act 2010 (as amended).
He also urged the panel to disregard the petitioners’ claims that the results of the election were transmitted electronically to a central server managed by INEC, adding that it was the “greatest lie of the century’’.
He submitted that it was laughable when the petitioners made pleadings that suggested that only the PDP and APC and their candidates contested the election.
Usman prayed the tribunal to take judicial notice of the fact that the Electoral Act 2010 prohibited the transmission of election results electronically.
According to him, the law only provides for manual transmission of election results.
Usman said that all the witnesses presented by the petitioners admitted to the fact that transmission of election results electronically had no placed in the country’s statute books at the moment.
In countering allegations that INEC abandoned its pleadings by not presenting witnesses, the counsel said the commission simply extracted salient pieces of evidence from the petitioners’ pleadings to solidify its defence.
Usman thereafter prayed the court to dismiss the petition for lack of merit.
Dr Livy Uzoukwu, SAN, counsel for the petitioners urged the tribunal to discountenance the addresses of the respondents, adding that the petitioners had indeed discharged the burden of proof.
He said the tribunal must exercise its powers in good conscience to uphold the petition and return Abubakar as president.
Uzoukwu further said the second respondent (Buhari) was unable to present his Secondary School Certificate before the tribunal in order to rest the allegation.
On the issue of server, Uzoukwu said INEC had operated, activated and stored the Feb.23 election results in a centrally controlled server.
The tribunal would have to rule on all pending interlocutory applications filed by parties before delivering judgment on the main appeal.