Tribunal Reserves Judgment In Atiku’s Petition Against Tinubu

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The Presidential Election Petition Court has decided to withhold its judgment on the petition filed by Atiku Abubakar, the candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), challenging the outcome of the February 25 election and praying for the nullification of President Bola Tinubu’s victory.

Tribunal Reserves Judgment In Atiku’s Petition Against Tinubu  The court’s decision means that the matter will be put on hold until a specific date is fixed for the final verdict.

Atiku Abubakar and the PDP have raised several issues in their joint petition, alleging that President Tinubu was not qualified to contest the poll. Among their claims, they pointed out that Tinubu had faced drug trafficking charges in the United States, that his academic certificates submitted to the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) were forged, and that he is also a citizen of Guinea.

Furthermore, the petitioners have accused INEC of manipulating the election in favor of President Tinubu. The case was presented with vigor, and the petitioners concluded their case on June 23 after calling 27 witnesses to testify.

The tribunal, in turn, adjourned the petition after President Tinubu, Vice-President Kashim Shettima, and the All Progressives Congress (APC) had concluded their defense on July 5. The court then directed all parties involved in the petition to submit their final written addresses.

During the resumed session on Tuesday, representatives for the involved parties presented their final addresses, summarizing all the evidence tendered before the court.

Abubakar Mahmoud, counsel to INEC, while adopting his final address, emphasized that the core of the petitioners’ case revolved around the alleged non-compliance with the provisions of the Electoral Act. He acknowledged the use of technology to enhance transparency but argued that the evidence presented by the petitioners demonstrated INEC’s commitment to conducting a credible and fair election.

He further pointed out that no electronic collation system was prescribed by the commission, and collation remained manual. Mahmoud argued that the glitch on the electoral system (IReV) was not caused by human interference and did not affect the election’s outcome.

Moreover, he dismissed the claim that winning 25% of votes in the FCT (Federal Capital Territory) was a requirement for victory, labeling it “absurd.”

On the issue of dual citizenship, Lateef Fagbemi, the counsel for the APC, contended that the constitution allows Nigerian citizens by birth to contest in presidential polls without disqualification. Fagbemi clarified that President Tinubu holds no other citizenship and cited previous legal precedents, including the Supreme Court case of Oyetola Vs. INEC & Others, which had already addressed the matter of dual citizenship.

Regarding the disqualification based on drug trafficking allegations, Fagbemi asserted that Tinubu had never faced any criminal charges in the United States. He argued that forfeiture proceedings did not qualify as a disqualifying factor and characterized them as civil forfeiture proceedings.

In his concluding remarks, Fagbemi urged the court to dismiss the petition entirely, stating that it had failed in both its root and branches.

The petitioners, on the other hand, passionately urged the court to uphold their case, maintaining that their claims were substantial and should be considered seriously.

The Presidential Election Petition Court is now expected to carefully review the arguments presented by both parties and make a final judgment in due course. The nation awaits the court’s decision, as it holds the potential to reshape the political landscape of Nigeria.

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