Election Tribunal Dismisses “In Its Entirety” PDP, Atiku’s Petition, Gives Victory To APC, Buhari

The five-man panel Presidential Election Petitions Tribunal has dismissed in its entirety the petition filed by the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and its candidate in the 2019 Presidential election challenging the victory of President Muhammadu Buhari in the February 23 election.

The tribunal, led by Justice Mohammed Garba dismissed the petition in its entirety and the parties are to bear their respective cost.

The judgment lasted for about nine hours – from around  9:30 a.m. on Wednesday and ended at 5:58 p.m.

“This petition is accordingly and hereby dismissed in its entirety.”

Other members of the tribunal including Justice Peter Olabisi-Ige, Justice Abdul Aboki, Justice Joseph Ikyegh and Justice Samuel Oseji, agreed with the lead judgement.

Justice Garba affirmed that President Muhammadu Buhari is the winner of the 2019 presidential election.

The PDP and Atiku had filed a joint petition on March 18, 2019, specifically asking the tribunal to disqualify Buhari, winner of the February 23 presidential election, on the grounds that he (Buhari) did not possess the requisite academic qualification to contest for the office of President, and the election was marred with irregularities.

Other petitions filed by the petitioners include; deployment of electronic voting, over-voting, substantial non-compliance with the electoral law as well as the use of security agencies to rig the election in favour of Buhari.

The tribunal also dismissed Atiku’s claim that he won the election based on results allegedly transmitted into the INEC sever.

According to the Tribunal, the Kenyan Information and Communication Technology (ICT) expert, David Njorga invited as the 59th witnesses to establish the claim that INEC transmitted results to a server during the last presidential election was based on ‘hearsay’ from a third party.

“The author of the content revealing the information from the said server claimed to be an INEC staff. This to me is unreliable for any information that should be relied on by an expert.

“Whatever he got came from the server belonging to the whistleblower and not INEC. Under cross-examination, he admitted that the information on the website www.factdontlie.com could have been doctored.

“His evidence is hanging on third party information from an unknown source. The law is clear on hearsay evidence,” Justice Garba stated.

The chairman of the tribunal added that the petitioner failed to prove substantial non-compliance of the electoral act in the 11 states complained to have been marred by electoral malpractices.

“They alleged arbitrary allocation of figures, result sheets not showing results of all political parties that participated in the election, intimidation etc.

“In other to prove these, witnesses ought to be called from each of those units who were eyewitnesses to the allegations to testify, but the petitioners did not call witnesses who are tied to the documents tendered. Even at that, the evidence of some polling units called by the petitioners cannot take the place of voters who were said to have been disenfranchised.

“Because there was no eyewitness account and no evidence by the petitioners the court cannot decide in favour of the petitioners as far as allegations of malpractices and irregularities are concerned.”

On other issues, the Chairman resolved that; “The petitioners failed to prove that the security agencies connived with the electoral umpire to assist the APC in manipulating the election results in the 11 states including Kebbi, Nassarawa, Borno etc.

“They also failed to prove that fake policemen were deployed by the APC to Influence the election. They also failed to prove allegations that the president retained the services of the service chiefs to use them to manipulate the election.

“It is their further allegation that in all the states of the federation military and police officers firmed themselves as supporters of the second respondent to attack, harass and stop the supporters of the petitioners from exercising their franchise.”

The tribunal also ruled that most of the witnesses called by the petitioner gave hearsay evidence which is not applicable in proving all the specific allegations and all the criminal allegations contained in the petition.

“There is no admissible evidence on record to back the claims of the petitioners.”

Justice Mohammed Garba started the pre-trial on June 10, 2019, after President of the Appeal Court, Justice Zainab Bulkachuwa withdrew from the matter, following calls of partisanship.

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