President Bola Tinubu has asked the Supreme Court to dismiss an appeal the 2023 candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, Alhaji Atiku Abubakar, filed to nullify his election.
Tinubu, in a 42-paged brief of argument filed through his team of 17 lawyers, comprising 10 Senior Advocates of Nigeria, urged the apex court to affirm what he termed as a “well-considered decision of the Court of Appeal,” which, while sitting as the Presidential Election Petition Court, PEPC, on September 6, dismissed the joint petition Atiku and his party entered against him.
While insisting that he was validly returned by the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, as winner of the February 25 presidential poll, Tinubu told the apex court that by statistics, he garnered 25% of the total votes cast in 29 states of the federation.
He told the court that the former Vice President and the PDP only managed to secure 25% of the total votes in 21 states of the federation “as against the constitutional requirement of 24.7 states, which is the mathematical results of two-thirds of the 36 states of the federation and the FCT (making 37).
Tinubu maintained that having secured the highest number of valid votes cast and having fulfilled all constitutional requirements in that regard, INEC had no option than to declare him as the winner of the presidential contest.
He told the court that Atiku and the PDP, dissatisfied with the outcome of the election, on March 21, approached the PEPC “on trumped-up allegations of non-compliance with provisions of the Electoral Act, 2022, corrupt practices, non-scoring of majority of lawful votes cast at the election and non-qualification of the Respondent.”
According to President Tinubu, “the hyperbolic character of the foregoing allegations was exposed by the petition itself, which had no facts in support thereof.
“Starting from the allegation of non-qualification of the Respondent, all that the Appellants submitted to the lower court through their petition was that the 2nd Respondent (Tinubu) was at the time of the election not qualified to contest the election, not having the constitutional threshold.”
He told the Supreme Court that Atiku and his party failed to explain what they meant by “constitutional threshold” till all the Respondents in the matter were done with filing of their replies to the petition.
“It was at this point they rolled out their drums of cooked-up allegations of discrepancies in the 2nd Respondent’s academic qualifications, dual nationality and sundry bemusing allegations from the back door.
“While they also claimed to have won the highest number of votes cast at the election, as against INEC’s declaration, throughout their petition, they did not suggest an alternative score which they considered correct, whether for themselves or the Respondent.
“Though they had alleged that the election was riddled with non-compliance and corrupt practices, the paragraphs of their petition putting up these allegations were nothing short of vague, imprecise, generic and nebulous.
“For these allegations which ought to have been specifically demonstrated through facts and figures, such as polling units and numbers, the Appellants, through their petition, chose to regale the lower court and the Respondents with breath-taking suspense, by stating that the said facts will be disclosed in their statistician’s report which was not part of the petition filed.
“It is commonsensical that the Respondents will only be able to respond to the facts in the petition and not on the crucial, albeit anticipated statistician’s report, since even the devil himself knows not the heart of man.”
Continuing, President Tinubu told the apex court that out of 27 witnesses that Atiku called, 13 did not have their witness statements front-loaded with the petition.
“With these, it was obvious that the Appellants did not intend to prosecute a petition but rather, to venture into some form of blockbuster, laced with thrilling suspense, stunning surprises and ecstatic hide-and-seek recreational activities; and these necessitated series of objections from the Respondents,
challenging the competence of the petition, as well as the itemised nebulous paragraphs of same, the statement on oath of these subpoenaed witnesses, which were not front-loaded with the petition and tons of documents sought to be tendered, which were either irrelevant or unconforming to the mandatory rules of admissibility.
President Tinubu told the apex court that whereas Atiku raised issue of non-transmission of results, all the witnesses he brought before the PEPC, “agreed that the election went very smoothly, where INEC complied with all the prescribed procedures.”
‘Dismiss Atiku’s appeal’
He, therefore, urged the Supreme Court to dismiss Atiku’s appeal as lacking in merit and to affirm the election and return of the Respondent by INEC as the President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, having scored highest number of lawful votes cast and fulfilling all constitutional requirements.”
Tinubu contended that the Appellants did not demonstrate any reason the Supreme Court should disturb any of the findings of the lower court, “which with all modesty, are rooted in law and perfect demonstration of scholarship.”
More so, President Tinubu noted that even though Atiku challenged his qualifications, however, in his alternative prayer in court, he requested to have a run-off election with him.
“The logical conclusion from this approbative and reprobative posture of the Appellants is that deep down in their hearts, they are convinced that the 2nd Respondent won the election, but have decided to embark on this voyage of abuse of court process,” Tinubu added.
Consequently, he prayed the Supreme Court to dismiss Atiku’s appeal marked: SC/CV/935/2023.
Cited as 1st to 3rd Respondents in the appeal, were; INEC, Tinubu and the All Progressives Congress, APC, respectively.
Meanwhile, no date has been fixed for the Supreme Court to commence hearing on the presidential dispute.