The Presidential Election Petition Court (PEPC) has initiated the process of delivering its judgment in the case brought forward by Peter Obi and the Labour Party (LP). This legal challenge questions the legitimacy of President Bola Tinubu’s victory in the recent presidential election.
Justice Abba Mohammed, a member of the five-member panel, is currently reading the lead judgment. However, before delving into the heart of the matter, the court has taken time to address several preliminary motions. These motions raise concerns about the competence of certain aspects of the petition.
One noteworthy aspect of the preliminary objections centers on the petition’s lack of specificity. The respondents argue that Peter Obi’s petition makes broad claims of widespread irregularities but fails to specify the affected polling units. Similarly, the petition alleges false election results without specifying which polling units were impacted. Additionally, claims of overvoting and rigging are made but without specific reference to the affected polling units. The court emphasized that the petitioners only presented generic allegations.
Furthermore, Justice Mohammed ruled that the evidence promised by the petitioners, including spreadsheets, inspection reports, and forensic analysis, had not been attached to the petition and served to the respondents.
In another crucial decision, Justice Mohammed found that Peter Obi and the Labour Party had not adequately detailed their allegations of corrupt practices, vote suppression, fictitious results, and other irregularities in their pleadings. This ruling adds complexity to the ongoing legal proceedings.
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The Labour Party claimed that INEC decreased their vote tally and attributed those votes to the APC. However, they did not provide specific details regarding their initial scores before the alleged reductions, nor did they identify the polling units where this purported manipulation occurred.
Regarding candidate qualifications, the court emphasized that political party membership falls within the realm of the party’s internal affairs.
The Tribunal also raised concerns about the omission of Atiku Abubakar, the second-place candidate, in Obi and the Labour Party’s petition, questioning the effectiveness of the petition without his involvement.
Additionally, the Tribunal addressed the matter of Obi’s membership in the Labour Party and ultimately ruled in his favor, affirming his legal standing to file the petition.
Meanwhile, the Tribunal has ruled that LP failed to substantiate allegations of electoral irregularities.
As the judgment unfolds by PEPC, it becomes increasingly clear that the court is closely scrutinizing the petition and its supporting evidence. The outcome of this case will undoubtedly have far-reaching implications for the legitimacy of President Bola Tinubu’s election victory.