All is set for President Muhammadu Buhari of the ruling All Progressives Congress, APC, to defend the allegation that he was not the legitimate winner of the February 23 presidential election.
The Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, had on February 27, declared that Buhari garnered a total of 15,191,847 votes to defeat his closest rival, Alhaji Atiku Abubakar of the opposition Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, who it said polled a total of 11,262,978 votes.
The result had since elicited varied reactions, with four political parties approaching the Presidential Election Petition Tribunal sitting in Abuja to challenge President Buhari’s re-election
The actors Aside the petition marked CA/PEPC/002/2019, which was entered against Buhari by the PDP and its candidate, Atiku, on March 18, the second petition marked CA/ PEPC/001/2019, was by the presidential candidate of Hope Democratic Party, HDP, Chief Ambrose Owuru who secured a total of 1,663 in the election.
The third petition, CA/PEPC/004/2019, was lodged by the presidential candidate of the Peoples Democratic Movement, PDM, Pastor Aminchi Habu, who is seeking a fresh election on the basis that his party’s logo was not included in the ballot paper.
The last petition with suit No CA/PEPC/003/2019 was filed by the Coalition For Change, C4C and its presidential candidate, Geff Chizee Ojinka, who are contending that Buhari’s re-election was vitiated by substantial noncompliance with mandatory statutory provisions.
The petitioners maintained that the irregularity substantially affected the election, “such that the 1st Respondent was not entitled to be returned as the Winner of the Presidential election”.
Remarkably, unlike in all the other petitions where only Buhari, the APC, and INEC were cited as Respondents, the C4C, which garnered a total of 2,391 votes at the presidential poll, cited the Vice President, Prof. Yemi Osinbajo, as the 2nd Respondent in its case.
Meantime, notwithstanding the innocuousness or otherwise of the last three cases, there is no doubt that the petition by the main opposition PDP and its candidate will assume the focal point in the coming days
. Specifically, in their joint petition, Atiku and his party, PDP, insisted that data they secured from INEC’s server, revealed that they clearly defeated President Buhari with over 1.6million votes.
The petitioners alleged that INEC had at various stages of the presidential election, unlawfully allocated votes to President Buhari, saying they would adduce oral and documentary evidence to show that result of the election as announced by the electoral body, did not represent the lawful valid votes cast Atiku alleged that in some states, INEC, deducted lawful votes that accrued to him, in its bid to ensure that Buhari was returned back to office.
The petitioners said they would call evidence of statisticians, forensic examiners and finger-print experts at the hearing of the petition to establish that the scores credited to Buhari were not the product of actual votes validly cast at the polling units.
More so, in one of the five grounds of the petition, Atiku and the PDP maintained that Buhari was not qualified to run for the office of the President, contending that he does not possess the constitutional minimum qualification of a school certificate.
The petitioners serialized results that were recorded from each state of the federation in order to prove that the alleged fraudulent allocation of votes to Buhari and the APC, took place at the polling units, the ward collating centers, local government collating centers and the State collating centers.
They argued that proper collation and summation of the presidential election results would show that contrary to what INEC declared, Atiku, garnered a total of 18,356,732 votes, ahead of Buhari who they said got a total of 16,741,430 votes.
The Petitioners stated that whereas the actual number of voters accredited at the election was 35,098,162, the 1st Respondent wrongly suppressed and/or reduced the number of accredited voters to 29,394,209 to the detriment of the Petitioners.
Part of their prayers includes an order directing the 1st Respondent, INEC, to issue Certificate of Return to the 1st Petitioner as the duly elected President of Nigeria.
In the alternative, the petitioners prayed the tribunal to nullify the February 23 presidential election and order a fresh poll. Atiku’s petition vague, nebulous- Buhari However, in a swift reaction, both Buhari and the APC, filed preliminary objections to challenge the competence of the petitions, even as they challenged Atiku’s locus-standi to even participate in the Presidential poll.
In his objection, Buhari described Atiku as a serial loser, boasting that he had always defeated him in every electoral contest that they took part in.
President Buhari insisted that electorates always chose him ahead of Atiku in both inter-party or intra-party contests, using the 2014 presidential primaries of the APC, as an instance.