With the 2023 presidential election now over, the battle has now shifted to the Court where the candidates of the Labour Party, Mr. Peter Obi and that of the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, Atiku Abubakar make a push to invalidate Bola Tinubu’s victory.
Tinubu of the All Progressives Congress, APC, was declared winner of the Feb. 25 election by the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC.
According to the results read out by the Chairman of INEC, Mahmood Yakubu, Tinubu polled a total of 8,794,726 to defeat his closest rivals and candidates of the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, Atiku Abubakar and Peter Obi of the Labour Party, LP who scored 6,984, 520 and 6,101,533 respectively.
Rabiu Kwankwaso of the New Nigerian Peoples Party, NNPP, scored 1,496,687, while the votes of the political parties put together is 666,298.
Tinubu was also said to have fulfilled the 25 percent votes from 24 States as stipulated in the Electoral Act 2022 as amended.
However, the LP and the PDP have been crying foul, insisting that each of them won the election.
The ruling party has also joined issues with both the LP and the PDP.
Major legal fireworks remused at the Presidential Election Petition Tribunal on Wednesday, with the court issuing different rulings.
Obi of the LP had sought an order stopping the INEC from reconfiguring the BVAS used for the election. The party hopes to rely on the BVAS to prove its case before the court. But the INEC countered the application, insisting that it would affect the governorship and the State Houses of Assembly election.
But in its ruling, the court held that the INEC should go on and reconfigure the BVAS. It hinged its ruling on the averment of the INEC that the action would not affect the data on the BVAS, which it said was already on its central server.
Sam Hart, the Senior Special Assistant on Public Communication to the Abia State Governor, Okezie Ikpeazu, summarised the ruling thus:
“Win-Win for both INEC & LP. Both requests granted.
“INEC assures Court that BVAS reconfiguration will not wipe data as they are saved in server back end.
“Judgment: LP – Inspect records;
“INEC – Reconfigure BVAS for March 11.”
Speaking about the chances of the LP candidate to reclaim his alleged stolen mandate in court, Head of the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, Digital Media. Barr, Tony Ehilebo, said the LP and its candidate will have to provide enough evidence that it won the election, especially the 25 percent requirement needed from 24 states and the FCT.
“Well, when a man comes out and declares war openly, you don’t know what he has in his Arsenal. Even the person he is coming to fight does not know what he has in his Arsenal. All you have to do is to watch. We’ll wait and see,” he said.
“When you say you won the election, what are the states you said you won the required 25%. In any case, I still think it was a very good run for him in such a short time.
“I think the case is more towards the substantial compliance by INEC.
“Did INEC comply with its guidelines which it severally stated that would be the guidelines for the election? The fact that you are an umpire does not mean you’re above the law. Even the Supreme Court, as mighty as it is, is bound by its laws,” he added.
Meanwhile, the Court also on Wednesday granted permission to the President-elect, Tinubu, to have direct access to the server of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to inspect all materials used for the presidential election.
The court in a ruling on ex-parte application by Tinubu ordered the electoral body to permit the President- elect to make photocopies of documents during the inspection.
Justice Joseph Ikwegh who delivered the ruling said that he was satisfied that there is merit in the request of Tinubu to access, inspect and make photocopy of documents required for his whatever purpose.
Justice Ikwegh held that the President-elect is entitled to have access to the INEC server in addition to making photocopies for his use to defend his election from any petition.