(News investigators) Peter Obi, standard bearer of the Labour Party (LP), has asked the presidential election petition tribunal to void the election of President Bola Tinubu.
Obi and his party had filed a joint petition in March challenging the outcome of the February 25 poll and asked the court to nullify Tinubu’s victory.
In their final written address dated July 20, the petitioners insisted that Tinubu and Vice-President Kashim Shettima were unqualified to contest the poll.
Obi and his party submitted that the forfeiture proceeding allegedly involving Tinubu in a US district court is sufficient to have him disqualified by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC).
Tinubu had said the $460,000 forfeiture was in a civil — not criminal — suit and since he was not convicted, he was eligible to contest the poll.
However, the petitioners insisted that since the forfeiture followed an indictment for fraud, Tinubu ought not to have contested the election.
“It is submitted that the order of forfeiture made against the 2nd respondent by the US court…constitutes a fine, and it is in respect of an offence involving dishonest or fraud by a court,” the petitioners said.
“It is submitted that by the express meaning and intendment of Section 137 (1) (d) of the 1999 Constitution, a person who, even though not convicted, has forfeited property on account of criminal conduct should not aspire to or be allowed to occupy the exalted office of president of Nigeria.
“That is why the word “or” is used twice in section 137(1)(d) of the Constitution, meaning it carries a disjunctive meaning — to separate persons convicted from persons who, even though not sentenced, are affected by an order of a fine imposed by a Court – like the 2nd respondent in this petition.”
Obi and his party also maintained that Shettima was guilty of a double nomination.
They said Shettima was nominated as Tinubu’s vice-presidential candidate on July 14, 2022, while he was still the senatorial candidate for Borno central.
They averred that despite a letter of withdrawal dated July 6, 2022, Shettima “signed INEC senatorial election notice of withdrawal of candidate form EC11C on July 15, 2022”.
INEC GUIDELINES AND THE FCT 25% SAGA
Citing the failure to transmit results in real-time, the petitioners submitted that the election ran contrary to relevant provisions of the Electoral Act and INEC regulations.
“The pertinent question is, how can an election result that lacks transparency, violates specific rules and regulations, palpably compromised, not susceptible to verification by the admitted technological platform introduced as an innovation for a transparent process, and contravenes clear constitutional provisions, be rightly described as accurate and or authentic,” the petitioners asked.
They also insisted that since Tinubu failed to score 25 percent of the votes polled in the federal capital territory (FCT), he ought not to be returned as the winner of the poll.
“It is submitted that a purposive reading of Section 134(2), Section 299 and the remainder provisions give us the conclusion that obtaining 25 percent votes in the FCT is an additional stand-alone requirement for election into the office of the president or the FCT is only a state, together with Nigeria’s 36 states, where the winning candidate must have obtained, at least 25 percent in two-thirds of all states (37 states),” the petitioners said.
“A literal reading of Section 134(2) of the Constitution gives the interpretation that a winning candidate must have 25 percent of total votes cast in two third of the states in the federation and the FCT, meaning that a winning candidate must obtain 25 percent in 24 states and in the FCT.”
The petitioners prayed the court to uphold their arguments and grant all the reliefs sought.