The Presidential Election Petition Tribunal, on Wednesday dismissed the Atiku’s petition, and upheld the election of President Muhammadu Buhari as the actual winner of the February 23 presidential election.
The tribunal said that the petitioners have not proved any of the grounds of the petition as known by law. Consequently, the leading judge, Mohammed Garba, dismissed the petition, Daily Post reports.
“And the petition is hereby dismissed in its entirety,” says the leading judge, Mohammed
The tribunal took out time to rule on certain pending motions and applications by the parties before delivering the judgment.
The tribunal resolved that the exclusion of Vice President, Yemi Osibanjo from the petition did not negate the legality of the petition by the petitioner contrary to INEC’s claim because the tribunal said the constitution places the position of the Deputy Governor and vice president in the shadow as appendages. It further affirmed that the candidates in those capacities are being envisaged in the eyes of the law as interested parties and not necessary parties.
Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC)’s motion seeking to strike out Atiku’s application challenging Buhari’s qualification as a pre-election matter was also dismissed by the tribunal.
The tribunal also struck out the APC motion alleging that Atiku was a Cameroonian and affirmed subsequently that Atiku is a Nigerian and, so qualified to contest the presidential election.
On the part of the PDP petition alleging that the ruling APC deployed security officers to manipulate the 2019 presidential election, the tribunal dismissed it saying that the PDP ought to have included the security officers allegedly involved in the petition as part of the suit.
The allegations of electoral malpractices by the petitioners which the APC and INEC alleged was vague and nebulous and urged the tribunal to strike out was refused by the tribunal rather it decided that the allegations are not vague and nebulous as claimed by the respondents even though specific areas the malpractices allegedly took place were not mentioned.
On the issue of none possession of minimum education qualification and submission of affidavit containing false information to INEC against Buhari, affirmed that,
“the second respondent (Buhari) was not only qualified but eminently qualified to contest the presidential election”.
Resultantly the petition was dismissed by the tribunal saying that the evidences tendered challenging Buhari’s academic qualification were not to be relied upon since the PDP was not the maker of the certificate.
Concerning the controversial use of the INEC server and card reader machines, the tribunal said there was no subsisting electoral law mandating the use of smart card reader, a situation it maintained, has not changed since 2015.
It also said the card readers could only be used to administer the voter’s card and authenticate the voter but not to authenticate election results.
The tribunal said the PDP’s application suggesting the use of a central server for the collation of result was, therefore, misconceived.
On the alleged use of a central server, the court noted that the PDP had said that Section 9 of the Electoral Act was amended in 2015.
The lead judge said, “The issue is: Can it truly be said that the section amended actually empowered INEC to transmit election results electronically?
“The court only has a duty to interpret the law. The court has no power to amend the law.”
The court read out the import of the provision, stating that Section 22 (a) does not provide for electronic transmission of results.
After reading through other sections of the law and added that
“It is undeniable that the transmission of election result is manual at different and all levels of the elections at different stages from the states to the national level.
“There is no provision authorizing the first respondent or any of its officers to transfer election results to any of the servers. There is also nothing allowing the first respondent to use the smart card reader for the collation of results.”
“I’m not aware that the card reader machine has replaced the voters’ register”.