The Supreme Court has reserved its decision regarding the appeal filed by Mr. Peter Obi, the candidate of the Labour Party (LP), challenging the outcome of the presidential election held on February 25. A seven-member panel at the apex court, led by Justice Inyang Okoro, approved the matter for judgment after all parties presented their briefs of argument.
Mr. Obi and the LP, represented by Dr. Livy Uzoukwu, SAN, their legal counsel, implored the court to uphold the appeal and overturn the judgment of the Presidential Election Petition Court (PEPC), which had previously dismissed their petition. The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), President Bola Tinubu, and the All Progressives Congress (APC) each had their respective legal representatives praying the court to dismiss the appeal due to lack of merit.
The panel announced that it would inform all parties of the judgment date. Mr. Obi, who finished third in the election, based his 51 grounds of appeal on the assertion that the PEPC panel made legal errors and reached an incorrect conclusion when dismissing his petition.
He alleged that the panel incorrectly assessed the evidence he presented, causing a miscarriage of justice by claiming that he did not specify the polling units where irregularities occurred during the election. Mr. Obi and the LP also contested the PEPC’s dismissal of their case based on the claim that they failed to specify the numbers of votes or scores that were allegedly manipulated in favor of President Tinubu and the APC.
They accused the Justice Haruna Tsammani-led PEPC panel of making legal errors when it relied on specific sections of the Electoral Act 2022 to dismiss paragraphs of the petition. Mr. Obi insisted that the lower court violated his right to a fair hearing, asserting that evidence from his witnesses was wrongly rejected as incompetent.
He informed the apex court that the panel unjustly dismissed his claim that INEC had uploaded 18,088 blurred results on its IReV portal. Furthermore, Mr. Obi alleged that the lower court disregarded his assertion that certified true copies of documents issued to his legal team by INEC contained 8,123 blurred results that included blank A4 papers, pictures, and images of unknown individuals, falsely represented as the CTC of polling unit results of the presidential election.
“The learned justices of the lower court made legal errors and caused a miscarriage of justice when they concluded that he had not substantiated the accusation of corrupt practices and over-voting,” Mr. Obi added. He contended that the lower court was wrong to employ the legal principle of estoppel to dismiss his argument that INEC had violated its own regulations by failing to electronically transmit election results from polling units to the IReV.
“The petitioners provided credible and substantial evidence, both oral and documentary, demonstrating significant non-compliance with the Electoral Act 2022 by the respondents in the conduct of the election. The lower court disregarded the fact that the respondents failed to refute the substantial non-compliance evidence presented by the petitioners,” the appellants asserted, adding that the panel improperly dismissed the issue of double nomination raised against Kashim Shettima, Vice President to Tinubu.
Similarly, Mr. Obi insisted that the PEPC overlooked evidence indicating that President Tinubu had previously been indicted and fined $460,000 in the United States due to his involvement in a drug-related case. He further argued that the imposition of a fine is not limited to a criminal conviction, as it legally encompasses civil forfeiture.
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