FCT 25%: Nullifying my election will have dire consequences, Tinubu tells Judges
By Jennifer S Kuwanta
President Bola Tinubu said there would be potential consequences, if the February 25 presidential election that declared him as the winner was nullified.
He cautioned that such a decision, based on his failure to secure 25% of the lawful votes in the Federal Capital Territory (FCT), could result in absurdity, chaos, anarchy, and the distortion of the legislature’s original intent.
Tinubu presented his arguments in a final written address to the Presidential Election Petition Court (PREPEC), responding to two petitions filed by candidates from the Labour Party (LP) and the People’s Democratic Party (PDP), challenging the validity of his victory. He claimed that the petitions raised novel issues and were not in line with the country’s electoral laws.
The PREPEC panel, led by Justice Haruna Tsammani, granted the respondents 10 days to file their written address, while the petitioners were given seven days to respond. Tinubu, along with his party, the All Progressives Congress (APC), concluded their defense in the two petitions, following the closure of the Independent National Electoral Commission’s (INEC) case.
The petitions filed by Atiku Abubakar and Peter Obi, along with their respective parties, contested INEC’s declaration of Tinubu as the winner of the presidential election. They sought the nullification of Tinubu’s victory, alleging non-compliance with electoral guidelines and regulations, as well as relevant laws.
According to INEC’s Chairman, Professor Mahmood Yakubu, Tinubu secured 8,794,726 votes, while Atiku Abubakar and Peter Obi obtained 6,984,520 votes and 6,101,533 votes, respectively. The petitioners argued that Tinubu did not meet the requirement of securing 25% of the lawful votes in the FCT and also raised concerns about his alleged disqualification due to a United States District Court judgment regarding suspected drug trafficking proceeds. They also cited the alleged double nomination of Shettima, another candidate associated with Tinubu.
During the proceedings, Atiku presented 27 witnesses, including INEC’s Presiding Officers and experts, while Obi called 13 witnesses and submitted numerous documents, including over 18,000 blurred result sheets. INEC, Tinubu, and the APC challenged the credibility of the witnesses and documents, urging the court to dismiss the petitions based on their lack of familiarity with the country’s electoral laws.
Tinubu’s counsel, Chief Wole Olanipekun, argued that the petitioners’ case revolved around the non-electronic transmission of results to the INEC Election Result Viewing (IREV) Portal and Tinubu’s alleged failure to secure 25% of the votes in the FCT. Olanipekun emphasized that the interpretation of the Constitution and electoral laws did not support the nullification of the entire election based on the FCT results. He contended that all votes and voters should be treated equally, regardless of their location.
The senior lawyer also highlighted the petitioners’ reliance on electronic transmission and challenged the credibility of their witnesses. He asserted that the election was conducted peacefully and in compliance with electoral regulations. Olanipekun further addressed the alleged US forfeiture proceedings, stating that no admissible evidence existed to invalidate Tinubu’s election.
In his closing arguments, Olanipekun urged the court to dismiss the petitions as lacking merit, substance, and bona fide, characterizing them as an abuse of the court process. He requested that the court add 10,929 discounted votes from Kano State to Tinubu’s total count, which would bring his final votes to 8,800,369.
The PREPEC is now considering the arguments presented by both sides before making its ruling on the petitions.