The Presidential Election Petition Court, PEPC, situated in Abuja, has rejected the claim made by the Labour Party, LP, and its candidate, Mr. Peter Obi, that the 2023 presidential election was manipulated in favour of President Bola Tinubu.
In its initial decision delivered by Justice Abba Mohammed, the court concluded that Obi and the LP were unable to substantiate their allegation of widespread corrupt practices during the election that occurred on February 25th. Despite asserting that irregularities tainted the election, the petitioners failed to provide specific details regarding where these alleged infractions occurred.
The court observed that while Obi and the LP insisted that election rigging took place in 18,088 polling units across the country, they were unable to identify the locations of these purported polling units. Additionally, the court found no evidence to support Obi’s claim that fictitious results were attributed to President Tinubu and the APC by the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC.
Furthermore, the court ruled that the petitioners did not specify the figures they alleged were subtracted from their election results in various states across the country, notably Ondo, Oyo, Rivers, Yobe, Borno, Tabara, Osun, and Lagos.
The court also noted the absence of information about the polling units where over-voting allegedly occurred or the precise numbers of illegal votes credited to Tinubu by INEC.
The court emphasized that although Obi and the LP indicated their intention to rely on spreadsheets, forensic reports, and expert analyses from their expert witnesses, they failed to include these documents with the petition or serve them to the respondents as required by law.
Furthermore, the court determined that while the petition contained serious allegations related to violence, voter suppression, fictitious election result entries, and corrupt practices, the petitioners did not provide specific details about the polling units where these incidents occurred.
Consequently, the court struck out several paragraphs (9, 60, 61, 66, 67, 68, 69, 70, 71, 72, 73, 76, 77, 78, 83, and 89) of the petition.
However, the court rejected the respondents’ argument that Obi was not validly nominated by the LP to contest the presidential election. It noted that the respondents claimed that Obi left the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, on May 24, 2022, and joined the LP on May 27, 2022.
They argued that as of May 30, 2022, Obi was not a legitimate LP member and could not have participated in its presidential primary election. They insisted that his name should not have been included in the LP’s membership register, which should have been submitted to INEC 30 days before the primary election.
Nonetheless, the court ruled that membership issues are internal matters for political parties and are not subject to judicial review. It stated that only the LP has the authority to determine its members, and the respondents lacked legal standing to challenge Obi’s membership in the LP.
Similarly, the court held that contrary to the contentions of Tinubu and the APC, the petitioners were not obligated to involve Alhaji Atiku Abubakar, who came second in the election, or his party, the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, in the case. It clarified that both Atiku and the PDP are not statutory respondents or necessary parties to the petition.
After resolving these preliminary matters, Chairman of the five-member panel, Justice Haruna Tsammani, is currently delivering the court’s judgment on the substantive issues.
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