By Myke Uzendu, Abuja
Candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, in the February presidential election, Alhaji Atiku Abubakar has filed a 35-ground appeal before the Supreme Court seeking to reverse the verdict of the Presidential Elections Petition Tribunal, PEPT.
The tribunal had affirmed that Asiwaju Bola Tinubu of the All Progressives Congress, APC, was duly elected in the election.
Atiku and PDP through their legal team led by Chief Chris Uche, SAN, is praying the Apex court to set aside the judgement PEPT delivered on September 6, which affirmed Tinubu of the ruling All Progressives Congress, APC, as the valid winner of the presidential election that held on February 25.
The Justice Haruna Tsammani-led five-member panel of the PEPT had dismissed all the petitions by Atiku on the outcome of the presidential elections.
Justice Tsammani said, “This petition accordingly lacks merit. I affirm the return of Bola Ahmed Tinubu as the duly elected President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria. The parties are to bear their cost.”
According to Tsammani, Atiku failed to prove non-compliance with the Electoral Act and lacked witnesses to prove it.
Justice Moses Ugo one of the justices at the tribunal said that Atiku’s petition was filled with nebulous and generic allegations.
He said the petition failed to specify particular polling units where malpractices took place in Kogi or in Lagos.
Justice Stephen Adah who continued reading the verdict pointed out the failure of Atiku to file the witness statements on oath along with his petition.
Justice Adah rejected 15 witnesses called by Atiku on the grounds that their witness statements on oath were not filed along with his petition. He thereafter expunged 37 exhibits tendered by the witnesses from the court’s records.
In his appeal, the former Vice President, maintained that the tribunal erred in law, when it failed to nullify the presidential election on the grounds of non-compliance with the Electoral Act, 2022, even when evidence that was adduced before it, showed that the Independent National Electoral Commission, (INEC) acted in breach of extant laws and regulations guiding the conduct of elections.
He alleged that the judgement of the Tribunal was based on gross misconstruction and misrepresentation of provisions of both the 1999 Constitution, as amended, and the Electoral Act, 2022.
In the appeal dated 18 September 2023, Atiku argued that the tribunal failed to adequately evaluate his evidence before reaching its conclusions.
His lawyer, Chief Uche faulted the court’s use of “disparaging words” against Atiku which “evinced bias.”
In another ground of the appeal, the lawyer told the apex Court that the tribunal’s conclusions “did not represent the true picture of the grounds of his petition” during trial.
Atiku further argued that the tribunal erred in law when it “failed to nullify the presidential election held on February 25, 2023 on the grounds of non-compliance with the Electoral Act, 2022, when by evidence before the tribunal, INEC conducted the election based on grave and gross misrepresentation contrary to the principles of the Electoral Act 2022, based on the “doctrine of legitimate expectation.”