The Presidential Election Petition Tribunal sitting in Abuja is expected to deliver judgment on Wednesday in the petition brought before it by the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and its presidential candidate, Atiku Abubakar, challenging the victory of President Muhammadu Buhari and the All Progressives Congress (APC) in the 2019 presidential election.
The Tribunal had through Sadiat Kachalla, the Court of Appeal Public Relations Officer, announced this in a notice of judgment seen on Tuesday.
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Atiku and the PDP had approached the tribunal seeking a reversal of the declaration of President Buhari as winner of the presidential election by the Independent National Electoral Commissioner (INEC) in February 2019.
According to the petitioners, the election was characterised by massive fraud, with the election result declared by INEC supposedly different from what was domiciled in a purported server used by the electoral commission.
INEC had on February 27, declared that President Buhari won the election with 15,191,847 votes to defeat Atiku, whom it said polled 11,262,978 votes.
However, the PDP argued that Atiku polled 18,356,732 votes while Buhari had 16,741,430 votes, according to the result on the INEC server.
The petitioners also claimed that the APC candidate was not qualified to stand for the election as he does not possess a Secondary School Leaving Certificate (SSCE), which is the ultimate qualification a candidate must have, according to the constitution.
However, INEC dismissed the claims of the petitioners, saying it neither transmitted results electronically nor stored information in any server as claimed by the petitioners.
Counsels to the president and the APC also argued that the president was well qualified to contest the election, having obtained the necessary qualification and even surpassed it.
Ahead of the judgment delivery, the camps of President Buhari and the APC and Atiku and the PDP have expressed confidence in getting a favourable judgment from the five-man panel of justices led by Justice Mohammed Garba.
Lanre Issa-Onilu, APC National Publicity Secretary, said the petitioners’ petition lacked merit as they could not provide circumstantial evidence to prove their case.
“We are expecting nothing short of victory. The PDP only helped us to prove our case beyond reasonable doubt. Their petition turned out to be a noise and lacks substance.
“We presented certificate from Cambridge and WAEC which they could not fault. They couldn’t bring anything from Cambridge and WAEC to say what we presented was fake.
“The results they submitted upon which they wanted the court to award them victory were contradictory. They simply don’t have a case,” Issa-Onilu said.
But Mike Ozekhome (SAN), a senior member of the petitioners’ legal team, said Atiku and the PDP had provided “overwhelming” evidence against the defendants.
He said: “My expectation, like the majority of Nigerians and international observers, is that the petition will succeed. This is because the petitioners have proved their case. The evidence was overwhelming and it was clear to everyone that the respondents had no defence. The judiciary will be courageous and bold to deliver justice.”
Also speaking, Diran Odeyemi, PDP Deputy National Publicity Secretary, expressed similar sentiment as Ozekhome, saying the party looked forward to the judiciary fulfiling its role as an impartial arbiter.
“We expect the judiciary as the last hope of the common man to dispense justice more so as Atiku has proved his case beyond any reasonable doubt and declare him the winner of the election,” Odeyemi said.