President Bola Tinubu, yesterday, prayed the Presidential Election Petition Court (PEPC) sitting in Abuja to consider the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) as 37th state of the federation for the February 25 presidential election.
Adopting his final written address, Tinubu, through his lead counsel, Chief Wole Olanipekun, submitted that FCT is the 37th state.
Referring to Section 134(2) b, which provides that a candidate contesting the post of president must score not less than one-quarter of votes in, at least, two-thirds of all states in the federation and FCT, he said Tinubu won one-third of two-third of votes in the FCT, qualifying him to be declared president.
The senior lawyer also submitted that there is a difference between transfer and transmit, noting that the I-Rev portal used by Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) played no role in collation of election results.
According to Olanipekun, all documents presented by Peoples Democratic Party’s (PDP) presidential candidate, Atiku Abubakar, were merely dumped on the court, and it would be unfair to consider them.
Counsel to the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), Abubakar Mahmoud (SAN), said the petitioners failed to discharge the burden of proof required of them by law.
He said the major plight of the petitioners is the non-compliance in the use of technological devices, which was a major innovation in the 2022 Electoral Act.
The application, he said, entails use of devices for authentication and transmission of election results from polling units to I-Rev and urged the court to hold that the innovation is effective and secured as provided by Amazon Web Services (AWS).
He said the evidence before the court shows clearly the good intention of INEC in its conduct of credible elections.
Mahmoud agreed with the petitioners that there was a glitch that disturbed the result in real time and urged the court to hold that the glitch was not human interference as the petitioners were not able to proof to court how it affected the final results of the election, stating that the whole case on noncompliance collapse.
Counsel to the All Progressives Congress (APC), Lateef Fagbemi (SAN), while adopting the final written address for the party, said all the issues raised by the petitioners have been addressed by judicial pronouncement and resolution.
- On the $460,000 forfeiture order by US court, Fagbemi said it was not indictive to warrant his disqualification, however assuming it is a fine, noting that Nigeria Constitution is a forgiving one that does not breed hatred and it is over 20 years ago.
- On dual citizenship, Fagbemi said the Nigerian Constitution allows a citizen by birth to contest with a dual citizenship certificate.
Lead Counsel to the petitioners, Chief Chris Uche (SAN) insisted that securing 25 percent vote cast in the FCT is mandatory constitutional requirement.
He said the technical glitch as claimed by INEC was deliberate in order to give room for manipulation of election results in favour of Tinubu.
According to him, the burden was on the electoral body to show why there was a technical glitch in technology that Nigeria had spent N355 billion.
Uche urged the court to hold that there was deliberate non compliance, which was nationwide to manipulate election results in favour of Tinubu.
Uche urged the court to accord values to the objective and neutral report of the European Union election observer mission, while urging the court to allow the petition and grant all the reliefs sought.
Chris Uche, however, insisted that securing 25 per cent of votes cast in the FCT is mandatory.
He said the technical glitch claimed by INEC was deliberate, to give room for manipulation of results in favour of Tinubu. According to him, the burden is on the electoral body to show why there was a technical glitch in a technology that cost Nigeria N355 billion.
PEPC reserved judgment till a date that would be communicated to the parties.