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INEC’s Position: Tinubu Won

The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) opposed the reliefs being sought by Obi and the LP, on the one hand, and Atiku and the PDP on the other, saying they were not grantable.
Addressing the LP’s prayers, the electoral umpire asked the Presidential Election Petition Court (PEPC) to reject the prayers, which among others seek the declaration of Obi as winner of the February 25 poll.

INEC, the 1st respondent, stated this in the reply filed by its lawyer, Abubakar Mahmoud (SAN), at the PEPC’s Secretariat, in Abuja on April 10.

The commission prayed the court to either “dismiss or strike out the petition for being grossly incompetent, abusive, vague, nebulous, generic, general, non-specific, ambiguous, equivocal, hypothetical and academic.”

In their petition marked: CA/PEPC/03/2023 filed by lead counsel, Livy Ozoukwu, Obi and the LP are of the view that Tinubu “was not duly elected by majority of the lawful votes cast at the time of the election.”

Obi and the LP, who claimed that there was rigging in 11 states, alleged that INEC violated its regulations when it announced the results when the totality of the polling unit results was yet to be fully scanned, uploaded and transmitted electronically as required by the Electoral Act.

Listed as respondents in the petition are INEC, Tinubu, Kashim Shettima and the APC.

But in its response, INEC argued that the grounds on which the petition was based were defective, having regard to the vague and imprecise averments supporting the said grounds.

INEC noted that, in relation to their claim of non-compliance with the provisions of the Electoral Act, 2022 and corrupt practices, the petitioners failed to disclose a reasonable cause of action by their failure to plead specific particulars and figures as to how the alleged non-compliance, which they claimed substantially, affected the results of the election.

The commission argued that the petitioners’ ground, hinged on their claim that Tinubu was not elected by majority of lawful votes cast, is defective, owing to their failure to plead the alleged unlawful votes to be deducted and/or lawful votes to be credited to the petitioners.

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INEC said that the petitioners’ prayer for the tribunal to declare that Obi scored majority of lawful votes cast at the election and be declared winner was equally defective in view of the petitioners’ “failure to join necessary parties and for lack of requisite particulars and pleading to support same.”

It contended that it was impossible for the tribunal to return Obi as the winner of the election, having not polled the majority of the lawful votes cast at the election and/or secured one quarter of the votes cast at the election in each of, at least, two-thirds of all states in the federation and the FCT.

INEC noted that the law required all political parties, intending to sponsor candidates in the election, to submit lists of their agents and were expected to observe the election process at their units, sign and collect result sheets on behalf of their political parties at the close of polls.

The commission added that some of the party agents whose names were on the list submitted to it were however, absent at their polling units while some others, who were present, did not participate in the election process.

It further stated that the petitioners (Obi and LP) did not have agents in all the polling units across country because they only submitted a list of 134, 874 polling agents, which is 41, 972 short of the 176, 846 polling units nationwide.

It added that the petitioners were not represented in many or some of the polling units across the country.

As against the petitioners’ contention, INEC insisted that Tinubu and Shettima were duly declared and returned elected and issued Certificates of Return, having fulfilled the requirements of the constitution to be declared winners and returned.

It added that Shettima was duly nominated and sponsored to contest the election as the vice presidential candidate.

INEC prayed the court to dismiss the petition by Obi and the LP.

25 per cent votes issue

INEC said Tinubu did not have to score 25 per cent of the votes cast in the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) before being declared president-elect.

The president-elect polled 8.8 million votes to beat Atiku, who came second and Obi who came third.

The two runners up had argued that to be declared the winner of the presidential election, a candidate must also score 25 per cent of votes cast in two-third of the 36 states and the FCT.

The two-third of the 36 states is 24. Mr Tinubu won 25 per cent of the votes cast in 29 states but secured only about 18.99 per cent in the FCT.

Atiku’s petition challenged Tinubu’s victory on, among other grounds, that the former Lagos State governor failed to secure the statutory 25 per cent of votes cast in two-thirds (24 states) and the Federal Capital Territory (FCT).

The petitioner, who urged the Presidential Election Petition Court in Abuja to either declare him the winner of the election or nullify it and order a rerun, also secured only 15.5 per cent of the votes in Abuja.

Obi won Abuja by securing 58.85 per cent of the votes in the capital city. Obi, despite coming third, is similarly challenging Tinubu’s victory in court, on among other grounds, that the president-elect failed to secure up to 25 per cent votes in Abuja.

However, in a preliminary objection to Atiku’s petition, the electoral umpire argued that there was no basis for the call for “a run-off and/or nullification of the said election.”

‘Why 25 per cent votes in Abuja is not mandatory’


Justifying its declaration of Tinubu as the President-elect, the electoral umpire said by scoring 25 per cent of the valid votes cast in 29 states, Tinubu “has satisfied the requirement of the constitution to be declared winner of the presidential election thus rendering the requirement of having 25 per cent of the valid votes cast in Federal Capital Territory unnecessary.”

Citing section 134 (2) (b) of the constitution, INEC contended that its declaration and return of Tinubu “was not wrongful…having scored one-quarter of valid votes cast in 29 states which is beyond the constitutional threshold for declaration.”

It further argued that Nigeria’s constitution confers the status of a state on the FCT (Abuja) “and ought to be recognised as one of the states of the federation.”

The FCT “beyond being the Capital of Nigeria has no special status over and above the other 36 states of the federation to require a candidate in the presidential election to obtain at least 25 per cent of the votes cast in the FCT before being declared winner of the presidential election,” the electoral umpire explained.

Inferring the intentions of the framers of the Nigerian constitution, INEC said a presidential candidate is expected to have “a national geographical spread and broad acceptability from the Nigerian electorate and not meant to bestow a veto power on the FCT or its electorate over the election of a candidate at a presidential election who has otherwise scored one-quarter of the votes cast in two-thirds of the 36 states except in the FCT.”

‘Votes not suppressed’

INEC further refuted Atiku’s claims of electoral malpractices comprising alleged voter suppression, manipulation of votes and Bimodal Voters Accreditation System (BVAS) machines in favour of Tinubu.

“No votes were suppressed,” it said.

The electoral umpire contended that no ballots, ballot boxes, BVAS devices, accreditation and collation, or election material logistics were manipulated” as alleged by Atiku and the PDP.

It maintained that there “was no intimidation and harassment, massive thumb-printing of ballot papers, destruction of electoral materials, mutilations, cancellations and overwriting on result sheets, inflation, deflation of scores and wrong entries in result sheets as alleged by the petitioners” during the February presidential election.

According to INEC, Tinubu scored 25 per cent votes in – Ekiti, Kwara, Osun, Ondo, Ogun, Oyo, Yobe, Lagos, Gombe, Adamawa, Katsina, Jigawa, Nasarawa, Niger, Benue, Akwa-Ibom, Edo, Kogi, Bauchi, Plateau, Bayelsa, Kaduna, Kebbi, Kano, Zamfara, Sokoto, Taraba and Rivers State.

‘Impossible to declare Atiku president’

INEC argued that Atiku’s prayers to the court to be declared president were impossible.

It said the PDP presidential candidate “failed to score at least one-quarter of the votes cast in at least two-thirds of the 36 states of the federation and the FCT and as such could not have been declared the winner of the presidential election…”

To further justify its crowning of Tinubu as president-elect, the electoral umpire noted that “the margin of lead between” Tinubu and Atiku was 1,810,206, adding that the total number of Permanent Voters Cards (PVCs) collected in areas where elections did not hold or were cancelled were 994,151.

[The Nation]

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