The Presidential Election Petition Court, (PEPC), sitting in Abuja, has dismissed the allegation by the Labour Party (LP) and its candidate, Peter Obi, that the 2023 presidential election was rigged in favour of President Bola Tinubu.
The court, in its preliminary ruling that was delivered by Justice Abba Mohammed, held that Obi and the the LP, did not by way of credible evidence, establish their allegation that the election that held on February 25, was characterized by manifest corrupt practices.
It held that though the Petitioners alleged that the election was marred by irregularities, they, however, failed to give specific details of where the alleged infractions took place.
The court noted that whereas Obi and the LP, insisted that the election was rigged in 18, 088 polling units across the federation, they were unable to state the locations of the said polling units.
It further held that Obi’s allegation that fictitious results were recorded to President Tinubu and the APC, by the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, was not proved.
More so, it held that the Petitioners were unable to state the figures they claimed were reduced from election results they garnered in different states of the federation, especially in Ondo, Oyo, Rivers, Yobe, Borno, Tabara, Osun and Lagos state.
It held that the Petitioners equally failed to state the polling units where over-voting occured or the exact figures of unlawful votes that were credited to Tinubu by the INEC .
It stressed that though Obi and LP said they would rely on spreadsheets as well as forensic report and expert analysis of their expert witnesses, they failed to attach the documents to the petition or serve same on the Respondents as required by the law.
The court held that though the petition contained serious allegations that bordered on violence, non-voting, suppression of votes, fictitious entry of election results and corrupt practices, the Petitioners, however, failed to give particulars of specific polling units where the incidences took place.
It held that several portions of the petition that contained the allegations, were “vague, imprecise, nebulous and bereft of particular materials.”
Therefore, the court, struck out paragraphs 9, 60, 61, 66, 67, 68, 69, 70, 71, 72, 73, 76, 77, 78, 83 and 89 of the petition.
Nevertheless, the court dismissed the contention of the Respondents that Obi was not validly nominated by the LP to contest the presidential election.
It noted that the Respondents had argued that Obi left the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, on May 24, 2022 and joined the LP on May 27, 2022.
The Respondents argued that as at May 30, 2022, Obi, was not a valid member of the LP and could not have duly participated in its presidential primary election.
They insisted that his name could not have been contained in the membership register of the LP, which ought to be submitted to INEC, 30 days before the primary election held.
However, the court, in its ruling, held that the issue of membership is an internal affair of a political party, which is not justiceable.
It held that only the LP has the prerogative of determining who is its member, adding that the Respondents were bereft of the legal to query Obi’s membership of the LP.
Likewise, the court, held that contrary to contention by Tinubu and the APC, the Petitioners, were not under any obligation to join Alhaji Atiku Abubakar who came second in the election or his party, the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, in the case.
It held that both Atiku and PDP are not statutory Respondents or necessary parties to the petition.
Having decided the preliminary issues, Chairman of the five-member panel, Justice Haruna Tsammani, is currently reading the judgement of the court on the substantive matter.
Earlier, Justice Abba Mohammed, one of the five-member panel of the court led by Justice Haruna Tsammani, dismissed the argument by Atiku Abubakar, the Presidential candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and his counterpart in the LP, Peter Obi, that President Tinubu was not qualified to contest the February 25th Presidential Election.