The Presidential Election Petition Tribunal, Wednesday, upheld the election of President Muhammadu Buhari as the actual winner of the February 23 presidential election.
It also said it has come to an inevitable conclusion that the petitioners have not proved any of the grounds of the petition as known by law and consequently discarded the petition in its entirety.
This development followed a petition dated March 18, by Atiku and PDP challenging the declaration by the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, that Buhari as the winner of the February 23, presidential election.
Below Are Motion Pushed By Both APC and PDP As Well As Court Judgement On Them:-
INEC Motion To Strike Out Atiku’s Application Challenging Buhari’s Qualification Because It’s A Pre-Election Matter
It was ruled that section 138 (1) (a) of the electoral act allows for the filing of petition relating to an allegation of false information.
The tribunal, therefore, ruled that it has within its powers to treat the application and make a determination of the details as contained in the petition.
Chairman of the tribunal, Mohammed Garba said, “I’m of the view that section 138 (1) does not fall in the category of a pre-election matter.
APC Motion Alleging That Atiku Is A Cameroonian
Also, the tribunal struck out the APC motion alleging that Atiku was a Cameroonian and affirmed subsequently that Atiku is a Nigerian and, so qualified to contest the presidential election.
PDP Motion Alleging That APC Used Security Officers To Manipulate Election
But the tribunal dismissed part of the PDP petition alleging that the ruling APC deployed security officers to manipulate the 2019 presidential election.
It said that the PDP ought to have included the security officers allegedly involved in the petition as part of the suit.
PDP Motion About Buhari Certificate
In the main allegations of none possession of minimum education qualification and submission of affidavit containing false information to INEC against Buhari, the tribunal after going through the whole hog of legal fireworks as made by the counsels, affirmed that;
“the second respondent (Buhari) was not only qualified but eminently qualified to contest the presidential election”.
It, therefore, dismissed the petitioners’ petition saying, the arguments go to no issue and was a rebuttable presumption.
The tribunal also pointed out that the evidences tendered challenging Buhari’s academic qualification were not to be relied upon since the PDP was not the maker of the certificate.
PDP Motion On INEC Server Issue
As for the controversial use of the INEC server and card reader machines, the tribunal said there was no subsisting electoral law mandating the use of smart card reader, a situation it maintained, has not changed since 2015.
It also said the card readers could only be used to administer the voter’s card and authenticate the voter but not to authenticate election results.
The five-member panel of the tribunal said the PDP’s application suggesting the use of a central server for the collation of result was, therefore, misconceived.
In part of the petition over the alleged use of a central server, the court noted that the PDP had said that Section 9 of the Electoral Act was amended in 2015.
The panel’s chairman said;
“The issue is: Can it truly be said that the section amended actually empowered INEC to transmit election results electronically?
“The court only has a duty to interpret the law. The court has no power to amend the law.”
The court read out the import of the provision, stating that Section 22 (a) does not provide for electronic transmission of results.
The court then read through other sections of the law and added that
“It is undeniable that the transmission of election result is manual at different and all levels of the elections at different stages from the states to the national level.
“There is no provision authorising the first respondent or any of its officers to transfer election results to any of the servers. There is also nothing allowing the first respondent to use the smart card reader for the collation of results.”
“I’m not aware that the card reader machine has replaced the voters’ register”.