*Constitutes legal team, says Atiku, Obi will meet waterloo at Tribunal
*A’Court orders INEC to allow PDP, LP presidential candidates to inspect election materials
Alex Enumah and Adedayo Akinwale in Abuja
The Presidential Campaign Council (PCC) of the All Progressives Congress (APC) yesterday claimed that complaints about the botched electronic transmission of the results by the candidates of the Peoples Democratic Party, Atiku Abubakar, and that of the Labour Party, Peter Obi, in the February 25 Presidential election were not supported by law.
The APC PCC also applauded the decisions of Atiku and Obi to challenge the result of last Saturday’s presidential election, adding that the two candidates will meet their waterloo in court.
It further announced that a legal team had been constituted to defend the mandate given to the party and the president-elect, Bola Tinubu at the Presidential election Petition Tribunal.
The media team of the APC PCC stated these at a press conference in Abuja.
The Special Adviser on Media and Communication of the APC PCC, Mr. Dele Alake, said Section 38 of the Electoral Act 2022 referred to by the PDP and LP has nothing to do with the transmission of election results.
Alake said: Section 60, Sub-section 2 of the Act deals with the transmission of results and it is at the discretion of INEC. The Act does not contain any mandatory provision regarding the transmission of results.
“In any case, the process of transmitting results from polling units, whether real-time, two days later or at any time, cannot in any way change the results that have been announced right after the counting in the presence of the parties’ agents and to the hearing of the voters. It is, therefore, nonsensical to insinuate that time variation in uploading results would cause a change in the figures.
“Those who laid claim to democratic credentials are expected to be conscious of those inimitable minimum requirements of law and order even in the face of a perceived injustice.”
He noted that “the initial knee-jerk and hothead call for anarchy by their proxies was ill-advised and would in no way serve any noble cause,” saying it was good to know that reason has prevailed.
Alake stated: “We must thank the two of them for finally opting for the rule of law as against the initial belligerent posture as they continue their baseless journey of chasing after a mirage.”
He said the ruling party welcomed “the decision of both the PDP and LP and also the NNPP candidates to test their claims, as ridiculous as they are, in the court of law as provided for by the constitution.”
Alake stressed that this was without prejudice to the conciliatory efforts of Tinubu.
Alake said: “We must say, however, that listening to both Atiku and Obi yesterday left us in the APC family confounded. We understand that there has been an orchestrated campaign by the acolytes of PDP and LP in the media to discredit the presidential election.
“What we did not expect is that the two presidential candidates and, indeed, their political parties, would shamefully re-echo the puerile and unimaginative arguments that are being canvassed by political illiterates and mischief-makers who are crying wolf on social media.”
Alake said the two otherwise experienced politicians are pinpointing lack of adherence to the guidelines as basis for discrediting the votes lawfully cast by Nigerians.
The campaign noted that the claim that the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) did not use the BVAS was false.
Alake explained that those who voted across Nigeria, including Atiku and Obi, were accredited by BVAS.
He said, “save for the bad losers that Atiku and Obi have proven to be, they should rather be celebrating the tremendous improvement the use of BVAS has brought to the country’s electoral process.”
Alake pointed out that the 2023 presidential election was a watershed as it produced unprecedented outcomes and defied conventions.
He said the deployment and use of BVAS was the only reason the elections produced these strange outcomes and upsets in many cases.
The campaign noted: “The loss of Katsina and Lagos to PDP and LP respectively were contrary to expectations. BVAS brought the intended credibility to voters’ accreditation such that many governors and well-established politicians lost elections in what should be safe bet areas.
“The era of ghost-voting and stuffing of ballot boxes is gone. As the experience in the last governorship election in Osun State has shown, over-voting would automatically lead to outright cancellation of the results of the polling units based on the provision of the new Electoral Act.
“The same PDP that is trying to pull the wool across the face of Nigerians was the culprit in the Osun State governorship election. Did they try to do it this time and it failed? Or did they do it in the areas they unexpectedly won? Did they have a grand plan to hack the INEC server if results were uploaded in real-time? Nigerians will soon find out.”
Alake stressed that contrary to the false claims of Atiku and Obi, the reasons for losing the elections were foretold, adding that besides the delusional expectations created during the campaigns to hoodwink the public, most PDP leaders knew their party had been decimated by Mr. Peter Obi.
He said the South-east and South-south were traditional strongholds of PDP and constituted the core support base for the Labour Party.
Alake stated: “PDP went into this election without its limbs and lied to itself that it could win the race. It is worthy of note that Atiku also accepted this fact during his press conference yesterday when he lamented that his party’s votes in the South-east and South-south regions were carted away by the LP.
“The PDP also found itself in No.3 in Kano, with a former member, Kwankwaso running away with over 900,000 votes.
“How far could the PDP have gone with what was left of it? Not so far as the results of the elections have shown. The members of G65 were key leaders of the party who had substantial political influence. They also went away with their own pound of flesh, leaving a crippled PDP to scavenge for crumbs of votes.”
For Obi, Alake said he “would go down as Nigeria’s most dangerous and divisive politician,” saying “he elevated his well-known clannish mentality to a most unfortunate height by openly anchoring his campaign on religion and ethnicity.”
He said, “Obi presented himself as a poster boy for and a champion of the country’s fault lines and also took advantage of the youths whose expectations are fast-paced, who are uninterested in excuses, and who were in search of a hero.”
Alake said, “Obi pumped up their sentiments and rode on their emotions while grandstanding as a saviour with pretense.”
Alake said If the Labour Party could not fill up its quota for polling booth agents with a shortfall of over 40,000, how did it intend to compete with political parties like APC and PDP?
He said: “It would be interesting to see what evidence of rigging the Labour Party will present before the court when the party could not appoint agents to monitor nearly a quarter of the venues of the election.
“As we look forward to an encounter with both the PDP and LP at the court, we want to enjoin the two of them to pursue their grievances with decorum. They should encourage their members, supporters, and ethnic and religious consultants to follow the path of the rule of law.
“We note that both Atiku and Obi are claiming victory. Wouldn’t it make sense for them to agree who the actual winner is before challenging APC in court? Meanwhile, the APC train has left the station, as we continue our effort to make Nigeria better for all Nigerians.”
At the press briefing, the Spokesperson of the PCC, Festus Keyamo, announced that a legal team had been constituted by the APC to defend its presidential mandate.
Though he did not reveal the names of members of the legal team, Keyamo only identified himself as part of the legal team.
He said: “As I am talking to you, we have constituted our legal team. We are going to court too. Let it not be that they are the only ones going to court. I am part of the legal team.”
Court Orders INEC to Allow Atiku, Obi Inspect Presidential Election Materials
In a related development, the Court of Appeal yesterday granted the request of Atiku and Obi to inspect documents used by INEC for the conduct of the February 25 presidential election.
The permission was a sequel to two separate Exparte Applications filed by Atiku and Obi, who came second and third respectively in the presidential election won by Bola Tinubu of the APC.
However, they are alleging substantial non-compliance with the electoral laws, in addition to violence and rigging which they claimed marred the conduct and outcome of the election.
Consequently, the duo who had at separate media briefing on Thursday in Abuja, vowed to ventilate their grievances at the soon-to-be-constituted Presidential Election Petition Tribunal had approached the Abuja division of the Court of Appeal, for permission to inspect the materials used by INEC in the conduct of the election.
While Atiku filed his own motion on March 1, that of Obi was dated March 2.
Atiku’s lawyer, Adedamola Faloku, in arguing the motion prayed the court to grant the Exparte application brought before it pursuant to Section 146 (1) of the Electoral Act 2022, Paragraph 47 (1, 2 &3) of the first Schedule of the Electoral Act of 2022 and under the inherent jurisdiction of the Court as referenced by Section 6 (6) A & B of the 1999 Constitution.
The application which was predicated on six grounds, sought for seven reliefs, adding that a schedule of the documents to interrogate the respondent (INEC) was also contained in the application supported by a 12-paragraph affidavit.
Counsel to the applicant adopted all the averments contained in the affidavit and urged the Court to grant the application.
In the other application, Obi’s lawyer, Mr Alex Ejeseme SAN, also prayed the appellate court to grant the reliefs sought in the motion exparte in the interest of justice.
Ejeseme also informed the Court that they had deposed a 15-paragraph affidavit and are relying on all the averments therein in urging the court to grant the application.
After listening to the applicants, the presiding Justice, Joseph Ikyegh subsequently granted the request of the two applicants.
Chairman of INEC, Mahmood Yakubu declared Tinubu the winner of the February 25 presidential election after securing a majority of votes cast at the poll. Besides, Tinubu met the constitutional benchmark of scoring 25% in two-thirds of 36 states and the Federal Capital Territory.
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