President Bola Tinubu and the All Progressives Congress (APC) have approached the Presidential Election Petitions Tribunal (PEPT) with a request to disqualify the Labour Party Presidential candidate, Peter Obi, from participating in any potential rerun election if the February 25th election results were nullified.
The legal team representing Tinubu and Vice President Kashim Shettima, led by Chief Wole Olanipekun, asserted that Peter Obi’s affiliation with the labour party is in question and therefore he lacks the legal standing to challenge the election outcome.
In a joint petition, Obi and the Labour Party claimed that the presidential poll was marred by irregularities, alleging rigging in approximately 18,088 polling units, alongside alleged instances of over-voting in parts of the South West. Obi further contended that the delay in uploading results to the IREV portal adversely impacted the integrity of the polls.
However, Olanipekun argued that the Court of Appeal, Lagos division, had previously ruled against the Labour Party on the issue of INEC’s discretion in collating election results.
He further emphasized that Peter Obi lacks the legal grounds to challenge the election results or participate in a potential rerun, asserting that Obi was not a Labour Party member at the time of the election, thus disqualifying him from initiating the case or being involved in a rerun.
Addressing the US Court’s judgment that ordered Tinubu to forfeit funds suspected to be linked to narcotics deals found in his account, Olanipekun pointed out that the 1999 Constitution states that a conviction becomes void after ten years.
APC’s lead counsel and ministerial nominee, Lateef Fagbemi (SAN), concurred with Olanipekun’s oral arguments, stating that Obi’s petition, though ambitious, failed to refute the fact that accreditation, voting, and results collation did indeed take place.
Fagbemi emphasized the need for polling unit-specific evidence to challenge election results and highlighted that any discussions about a potential rerun, as suggested by Obi, should involve Tinubu and the PDP’s presidential candidate, Atiku Abubakar.
The legal representatives of INEC, led by Abubakar Mahmoud, endorsed all of Olanipekun’s written submissions against Obi’s petition. Mahmoud argued that the evidence presented indicated INEC’s efforts to ensure the proper functioning of the Bimodal Voter Accreditation System (BVAS) machines. He contended that the concept of an “electronic collation system” concocted by the petitioners lacked substantiating evidence.
Mahmoud asserted that the BVAS machine issues on the presidential election day were due to technical glitches and urged the court to dismiss claims of intentional human interference. He clarified that INEC’s Results Viewing Portal IRev was designed for public viewing, not for collating results.
Mahmoud challenged the credibility of the arguments concerning the alleged 18,088 blurred results on IREV, stating that these did not imply the original result sheets were blurred. He further noted the absence of evidence from Obi’s LP agents to support their case.
He concluded that the blurred results were used for dramatic effect and held no merit, while also addressing the issue of getting 25 percent votes in the FCT, stating that the court must avoid adopting an approach that leads to absurd outcomes. The INEC counsel urged the court to treat the FCT like any other state and dismiss Obi’s petition.