The presidential candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party, Atiku Abubakar, and his Labour Party counterpart, Peter Obi, have rejected Wednesday’s judgment of the Presidential Election Petition Tribunal affirming the election of President Bola Tinubu.
The Legal Adviser to the Labour Party, Kehinde Edun, vowed to challenge the judgment at the Supreme Court.
Also, Atiku’s Lead Counsel, Chris Uche, SAN, said he had received instructions from his client to file an appeal at the Supreme Court.
He said “The judgment has been delivered but we have not received justice. Luckily, the law has given us leverage to go on appeal to the Supreme Court. We have instructions from our clients to go to the Supreme Court. The struggle continues.”
The PEPT which began sitting at 9.40am at the Court of Appeal, Abuja, ruled that the petition filed by Atiku and Obi and their parties had no merit and unanimously upheld Tinubu’s electoral victory in the February 25 presidential election.
The five-member panel took turns to dismiss the petitions presented by Atiku and Obi against the declaration of Tinubu as the winner of the presidential election by the Independent National Electoral Commission on March 1, 2023.
The judgment was delivered by the Chairman of the tribunal, Justice Haruna Tsammani, assisted by other members of the panel-Justices Stephen Adah, Monsurat Bolaji-Yusuf, Moses Ugo and Abba Mohammed.
Delivering the death knell to Atiku’s petition on Wednesday night, Tsammani stated, “This petition accordingly lacks merit. I affirm the return of Bola Ahmed Tinubu as the duly elected President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria. The parties are to bear their cost.”
The National Legal Adviser of the LP, Edun, expressed disappointment with the judgment, stressing that the tribunal was unfair to reject 10 of their 13 witnesses, adding that the decision weakened their case.
Edun said, “We already had a premonition that this might happen. For example, where the court was saying the statements of some key witnesses should have been filed along with the petitions. How can that be? Subpoena is an order of court by which the court has compelled a witness to come and give evidence before or as of the time you are filing the petition.
‘’This is because I have not assumed jurisdiction, the tribunal has also not assumed jurisdiction. We are just filing. It is only after filing that the court assumes jurisdiction, not before. So how can you file a witness statement at the time of filing the petition? It is when the court signs the subpoena.”
He explained, ‘’That subpoena is an invitation to the person indicating that the court has given him an order to come and give evidence. So, if the court has not ordered the person, how can he give any statement?
‘’This is why I said the judgment is so strange. And it is on the basis that they knocked out the evidence of 10 of our 13 witnesses, which inevitably weakened our case. It is a strange judgment.”
On the next point of action for the party, the legal adviser disclosed that the apex court will be the final arbiter.
“There are some filings that are unacceptable to us. So we need to see what the apex court has to say to this. We have to address this, not only for today, but for the sake of our jurisprudence. We want to see what the judges at the Supreme Court will say about all these. It is so important to do this for the sake of tomorrow.”
Delivering judgment earlier on Obi and LP’s petition marked CA/PEPC/03/2023, Tsammani said the petitioners failed to prove the allegations in their petition as required by the law and went ahead to knock off the planks of the case one after the other.
The tribunal held that although 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.
In the verdict that was read for five hours, the tribunal further held that Obi’s allegation that fictitious results were recorded for the Tinubu and the All Progressives Congress by the Independent National Electoral Commission was not proved.