The presidential candidate of the Labour Party (LP), Peter Obi, has filed his petition to challenge the victory of Bola Tinubu of the All Progressives Congress (APC) in the 25 February election.
Mr Obi, who came third in the election, filed his petition to challenge the outcome of the poll at the Presidential Election Petition Court in Abuja at about midnight on Tuesday.
He alleged that the election was characterised by various irregularities including the non-qualification of Mr Tinubu and his running mate, Kashim Shettima to contest the election.
He also alleged that Mr Tinubu failed to win the majority of the lawful votes cast in the election, and just as he could not secure one-quarter of the lawful votes cast in the Federal Capital Territory (FCT), Abuja.
He also alleged that the election was conducted in substantial non-compliance with the provision of the law.
The Labour Party candidate, therefore, urged the court to either declare him the president-elect, in the belief that he scored the majority of the lawful votes during the election, or nullify the entire election and order a fresh election.
The petition contains a total of five prayers divided into two categories – two main prayers and three alternative prayers.
Mr Obi jointly filed the petition alongside his party, the Labour Party.
The co-petitioners sued the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), Mr Tinubu, Kashim Shettima (vice-president-elect) and their party, the APC, as the respondents.
The petitioners filed their case on Tuesday, beating the 21-day deadline that began to count from March 1 when INEC declared the winner of the election.
INEC Chairman, Mahmood Yakubu, who announced the final results in the early hours of 1 March in Abuja, said Atiku Abubakar of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) came second in the election.
Atiku polled a total of 6,984,520 votes in the election, according to the results declared by INEC.
Mr Obi of the Labour Party came behind Atiku with a total of 6,101,533 votes, while Rabiu Kwankwaso of the NNPP came fourth with 1,496,687 votes.
Mr Obi’s legal team which filed the petition against the outcome of the election on Tuesday is led by Livy Uzoukwu, a Senior Advocate of Nigeria (SAN).
Mr Uzoukwu led Atiku’s legal team when the former vice president unsuccessfully challenged the victory of President Muhammadu Buhari in 2019.
Grounds of the petition
As part of the grounds of the petition, Mr Obi argued that Mr Tinubu, “at the time of the (presidential) election, was not qualified to contest the election.”
The petitioner anchored this claim on the grounds that the Mr Tinubu “was fined $460,000 for an offence involving dishonesty, namely narcotics trafficking imposed by the United States District Court, Northern District of Illinois, Eastern Division, in case no:93C 4483″ between the United States of America and Bola Tinubu.
Concerning the alleged non-qualification of Mr Tinubu’s running mate, Mr Shettima, the petitioner cited his nomination for two separate constituencies – as Borno Central senatorial candidate and vice-presidential candidate for the whole of Nigeria in the same election cycle.
He said the law provided that a presidential candidate shall nominate another person as his associate who is to occupy the office of vice president.
He recalled that Mr Tinubu had nominated Mr Shettima as his vice-presidential candidate on 14 July 2022 while the latter was still representing Borno Central Senatorial District at the National Assembly.
He added that the APC nominated Mr Shettima as its candidate for Borno Central Senatorial District as of 15 July 2022, while already chosen by Mr Tinubu as his running mate.
Mr Obi said Mr Shettima should not have allowed himself to be nominated in “more than one constituency”. He said this was a violation of the provision of the Electoral Act.
He vowed to prove in court that APC’s “purported sponsorship” of Messrs Tinubu and Shettima while the latter was still representing Borno Central Senatorial district, rendered their candidacy “invalid.”
He added that “…for this reason, the votes purportedly recorded for” Mr Tinubu “at the presidential election were/are wasted votes and ought to be disregarded”.
The petitioner also contended that Mr Tinubu “was not duly elected by majority of the lawful votes cast at the time of the election.”
He argued that Mr Tinubu did not win the majority of lawful votes cast in each of at least two-third of the states of the federation and the FCT, Abuja.
He added that Mr Tinubu was not entitled to be declared the winner of the election having failed to score one-quarter of the lawful votes cast in the FCT in the election.
Mr Obi put forward five prayers in court. Three of them are alternative prayers to the two main ones.
In his two main prayers, he urged the court to declare Mr Tinubu and his running mate, Kashim Shettima, unqualified to contest the 25 presidential election.
Still under the first prayer, he urged the court to declare that Mr Tinubu did not score the majority of the lawful votes cast in the election.
He asked the court to declare that he satisfied the constitutional requirements to be declared the winner of the 25 February 2023 presidential election after the deduction of alleged illegal votes from Mr Tinubu’s scores.
In the second main prayer, Mr urged the court to invalidate Mr Tinubu’s victory due to his failure to win one-quarter of the lawful votes cast in the Federal Capital Territory (FCT), Abuja.
However, in his third prayer, which he put forward as an alternative prayer, Mr Obi urged the court to cancel the election and order INEC to conduct a fresh one.
But he went further to repeat his claim that he won the election in prayer 4 which he also put forward as an alternative prayer.
Claiming to have secured the majority of the lawful votes cast during the 25 February election, Mr Obi called on the court to declare him the president-elect, and order the INEC to issue him a certificate of return. He urged the court to void the certificate of return “wrongly” issued to Mr Tinubu.
In his fifth prayer, another alternative prayer, he called on the court to nullify the election which he said was conducted without compliance with the electoral law, and order a fresh poll.
READ THE 5 PRAYERS IN FULL
The Petitioners, therefore, seek the following Reliefs from this Honourable Court:
1. (i) That it be determined that at the time of the Presidential Election held on 25th February, 2023, the 2nd and 3rd Respondents (Tinubu and Shettima) were not qualified to contest the election.
(ii) That it be determined that all the votes recorded for the 2nd respondent in the election are wasted votes, owing to the non-qualification/disqualification of the 2nd and 3rd respondents.
(iii) That it be determined that on the basis of the remaining votes (after discountenancing the votes credited to the 2nd Respondent) the 1st petitioner (Mr Obi) scored a majority of the lawful votes cast at the election and had not less than 25 per cent of the votes cast in each of at least 2/3 (two-third) of the states of the federation, and the Federal Capital Territory, Abuja, and satisfied the constitutional requirements to be declared the winner of the 25 February 2023 presidential election.
2. That it be determined that the 2nd Respondent having failed to score one-quarter of the votes cast at the presidential election in the Federal Capital Territory, Abuja, was not entitled to be declared and returned as the winner of the presidential election held on 25 February 2023.
IN THE ALTERNATIVE TO 2 ABOVE:
3. An order cancelling the election and compelling the 1st Respondent to conduct a fresh election at which the 2nd, 3rd and 4th Respondents shall not participate.
IN THE ALTERNATIVE TO 1, 2 AND 3 ABOVE:
4. (i) That it may be determined that the 2nd Respondent was not duly elected by a majority of the lawful votes cast in the election for the office of the President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria held on 25 February 2023; and therefore, the declaration and return of the 2nd Respondent as the winner of the Presidential election are unlawful, unconstitutional and of no effect whatsoever.
(ii) That it be determined that based on the valid votes cast at the Presidential election of 25 February, 2023, the 1st Petitioner scored the highest number of votes cast at the election and not less than one-quarter of the votes cast at the election in each of at least two-thirds of all the States in the Federation and the Federal Capital Territory, Abuja and ought to be declared and returned as the winner of the Presidential election.
(iii) An Order directing the 1st Respondent to issue the Certificate of Return to the 1st Petitioner as the duly elected President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.
READ ALSO: I’ve confidence in Nigeria’s judiciary — Peter Obi
(iv) That it be determined that the Certificate of Return wrongly issued to the 2nd Respondent by the 1st Respondent is null and void and be set aside.
FURTHER ALTERNATIVE TO 1, 2,3 AND 4 ABOVE:
5 (i) That the Presidential election conducted on 25th February, 2023 is void on the ground that the election was not conducted substantially in accordance with the provisions of the Electoral Act 2022 and Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria 1999, as amended,
(ii) An order cancelling the’ Presidential Election conducted on 25th February 2023 and mandating the 1st Respondent to conduct a fresh election for the office of President, the Federal Republic of Nigeria.
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