The Presidential Election Petition Tribunal, sitting in Abuja, will on Wednesday, commence hearing on the petition the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, and its Candidate, Atiku Abubakar, filed to challenge the outcome of the February 23, 2019, Presidential election.
The Petitioners, are seeking to invalidate the declaration of President Muhammadu Buhari of the All Progressives Congress, APC, as the winner of the Presidential contest.
It was learnt on Tuesday night, that a five-man Panel of Justices of the Court of Appeal, will conduct pre-hearing session on the petition Atiku and his party lodged before the Tribunal, on March 18.
It was however, not clear if the Panel will be headed by the President of the Court of Appeal, Justice Zainab Bulkachuwa, or by Justice Abdul Aboki, who earlier made preliminary orders that compelled the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, to grant all the parties access to the electoral materials that were used in the conduct of the election.
Aside INEC, President Buhari and the APC, were cited as Respondents in the petition.
It will be recalled, that the Electoral body had on February 27, declared that Buhari won the Presidential contest with 15,191,847 votes, to defeat his closest rivalry, Atiku, who it said polled a total of 11,262,978 votes.
However, in their joint petition, Atiku and his party, insisted that data they secured from INEC’s server, revealed that they defeated President Buhari and his APC, with over 1.6 million votes.
The Petitioners alleged that INEC had at various stages of the Presidential election, unlawfully allocated votes to President Buhari, saying that, they would adduce oral and documentary evidence to show that results of the election as announced by the Electoral body, did not represent the lawful valid votes cast.
Atiku alleged that in some States, INEC deducted lawful votes that accrued to him, in its bid to ensure that Buhari was returned back to Office.
The Petitioners stated that they would call evidence of Statisticians, Forensic Examiners, and Finger-Print Experts, at the hearing of the petition, to establish that the scores credited to Buhari were not the product of actual votes validly cast at the polling units.
“The Petitioners plead and shall rely on electronic video recordings, newspaper reports, photographs and photographic images of several infractions of the electoral process by the Respondents”, they added.
More so, in one of the five grounds of the petition, Atiku and the PDP maintained that Buhari was not qualified to run for the Office of the President, contending that he does not possess the constitutional minimum qualification of a School Certificate.
The Petitioners equally serialised results that were recorded from each State of the Federation, in order to prove that the alleged fraudulent allocation of votes to Buhari and the APC, took place at the polling units, the Ward Collating Centres, Local Government Collating Centres, and the State Collating Centres.
They argued that proper collation and summation of the Presidential election results, would show that contrary to what INEC declared, Atiku, garnered a total of 18,356,732 votes, ahead of Buhari, who they said got a total of 16,741,430 votes.
“The Petitioners shall rely on the evidence of Statisticians, Forensic Examiners and other Experts, detailing the data analysis on the votes at all levels of collation, from the polling units, to the final return”, he added.
“The Petitioners state that Smart Card Readers deployed by the 1st Respondent, in addition to accreditation, equally transmitted electronically, the results of voting from polling units directly to the server of the 1st Respondent. The Presiding Officers of the 1st Respondent directly inputted the results from the polling units at the end of voting, and transmitted directly to the server, in addition to manually taking the Form EC8As to the wards for collation. The 1st Respondent is hereby given notice to produce the records of results from each polling unit, uploaded and transmitted electronically by Officials of the 1st Respondent, through Smart Card Readers, to the 1st Respondent’s servers.
“The Petitioners plead and rely on the 1st Respondent’s Manual Technologies 2019, and notice is hereby given to the 1st Respondent to produce same at the trial. The 1st Respondent’s Agents at the polling units, used the Smart Card Reader for electronic collation and transmission of results. The Petitioners plead and shall rely on and play at the trial, the video demonstration by the 1st Respondent, of the deployment of Smart Card Reader for authentication of accreditation, and for transmission of data.
“The Petitioners hereby plead and rely upon the extract of data, as contained on the 1st Respondent’s servers, as at 25th February, 2019, notice to produce whereof is hereby given to the 1st Respondent. The Petitioners also will rely on the data on the 1st Respondent’s central server, between 25th February, 2019, and 8th March, 2019, and hereby also give notice to produce same before this Honourable Court.
“The Petitioners hereby plead the electronic data on the servers of the 1st Respondent, and shall at the trial give evidence of the source of the data analysis and data material, including the website.
“The 1st Respondent had on the day of election, published the total number of registered voters in the entire country, as 84,004,084. Subsequently, the same 1st Respondent published a different figure of 82,344,107 as registered voters, leading to an unexplained difference of 1,659,977 registered voters. The 1st Respondent equally published the number of Permanent Voters Cards (PVC) collected for the purpose of the Presidential election, as 72,775,502.
“The Petitioners state that whereas the actual number of voters accredited at the election was 35,098,162, the 1st Respondent wrongly suppressed and/or reduced the number of accredited voters to 29,394,209, to the detriment of the Petitioners.
“The 1st Respondent had by its Regulations and Guidelines for the Conduct of elections, 2019, made pursuant to the Electoral Act, 2010 (as amended), provided for the mandatory use of Card Readers for the said election. The 1st Respondent by its Press release on Smart Card Readers, issued in February 2019, and signed by its National Commissioner, Barrister Festus Okoye, emphasised and reiterated that: “The use of the Smart Card Reader is NOT ONLY MANDATORY, but its deliberate non-use attracts the sanction of possible prosecution of erring Officials, in accordance with the INEC Regulations and Guidelines for the conduct of elections.
“This is in addition to the voiding of any result emanating from such units or areas, as was done in the Presidential and National Assembly elections of February 23, 2019.”
By this stated position of the 1st Respondent, all accreditation not done by Smart Card Readers in the Presidential election, was and remain void.
“The Petitioners state and contend that the 2nd Respondent was not duly elected by majority of lawful votes cast at the election; and that from the data on each State of the Federation and the Federal Capital Territory, Abuja, in the 1st Respondent’s server, the 1st Petitioner, as opposed to the 2nd Respondent, scored majority of lawful votes cast at the election.
“Wherefore, the Petitioners pray jointly and severally against the Respondents as follows:-
“That it may be determined that the 2nd Respondent (Buhari), was not duly elected by a majority of lawful votes cast in the said election, and therefore, the declaration and return of the 2nd Respondent by the 1st Respondent as the President of Nigeria, is unlawful, undue, null, void, and of no effect.
“That it may be determined that the 1st Petitioner (Atiku), was duly and validly elected and ought to be returned as President of Nigeria, having polled the highest number of lawful votes cast at the election to the Office of the President of Nigeria, held on 23rd February 2019, and having satisfied the constitutional requirements for the said election.
“An order directing the 1st Respondent to issue Certificate of Return to the 1st Petitioner, as the duly elected President of Nigeria.
“That it may be determined that the 2nd Respondent was at the time of the election, not qualified to contest the said election.
“That it may be determined that the 2nd Respondent submitted to the Commission, affidavit containing false information of a fundamental nature, in aid of his qualification for the said election.”
In the alternative, the Petitioners prayed the Tribunal to nullify the February 23, Presidential election, and order a fresh poll.
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