The Presidential Election Petition Tribunal, has released its full report, which upheld the election of President Muhammadu Buhari as the actual winner of the February 23 presidential election.
The tribunal had stated that the petitioners have not proved any of the grounds of the petition as known by law and consequently discarded the petition in its entirety.
“And the petition is hereby dismissed in its entirety,” says the leading judge.
The ruling followed a petition dated March 18, by Atiku and PDP challenging the declaration by the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, that Buhari as the winner of the February 23, presidential election.
The tribunal dismissed part of the PDP petition alleging that the ruling APC deployed security officers to manipulate the 2019 presidential election. It said that the PDP ought to have included the security officers allegedly involved in the petition as part of the suit.
Besides, the tribunal refused the application by INEC fo nullify the documents and witnesses presented by the PDP on grounds that the petitioners made wrong spelling of the lead counsel, Levi Uzoukwu’s name in their petition.
For the allegations of electoral malpractices by the petitioners, the APC and INEC urged the tribunal to strike it out, alleging it was vague and nebulous.
It decided that the allegations were vague and nebulous as claimed by the respondents even though specific areas the malpractices allegedly took place were not mentioned.
In the main allegations of none possession of minimum education qualification and submission of affidavit containing false information to INEC against Buhari, the tribunal after going through the whole hog of legal fireworks as made by the counsels, affirmed, “the second respondent (Buhari) was not only qualified but eminently qualified to contest the presidential election”.
It, therefore, dismissed the petitioners’ petition saying, the arguments go to no issue and was a rebuttable presumption.
The tribunal also pointed out that the evidences tendered challenging Buhari’s academic qualification were not to be relied upon since the PDP was not the maker of the certificate.
As for the controversial use of the INEC server and card reader machines, the tribunal said there was no subsisting electoral law mandating the use of smart card reader, a situation it maintained, has not changed since 2015.
It also said the card readers could only be used to administer the voter’s card and authenticate the voter but not to authenticate election results.
The five-member panel of the tribunal said the PDP’s application suggesting the use of a central server for the collation of result was, therefore, misconceived.
In part of the petition over the alleged use of a central server, the court noted that the PDP had said that Section 9 of the Electoral Act was amended in 2015.
The panel’s chairman said, “The issue is: Can it truly be said that the section amended actually empowered INEC to transmit election results electronically?
“The court only has a duty to interpret the law. The court has no power to amend the law.”
The court read out the import of the provision, stating that Section 22 (a) does not provide for electronic transmission of results.
The court then read through other sections of the law and added that
“It is undeniable that the transmission of election result is manual at different and all levels of the elections at different stages from the states to the national level.
“There is no provision authorising the first respondent or any of its officers to transfer election results to any of the servers.
“There is also nothing allowing the first respondent to use the smart card reader for the collation of results. I’m not aware that the card reader machine has replaced the voters”.