The All Progressives Congress (APC), Nigeria’s ruling party and President Muhammadu Buhari, have asked the presidential election petitions tribunal to dismiss the petition filed by Atiku Abubakar and his party, the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), challenging the February 23 general election on technicalities and evidential grounds.
Naija News reports that the prayers formed the complete range other requests contained in both APC and Buhari’s final addresses to be adopted on August 23, made available to the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) on Sunday, August 19 in Abuja, Nigeria’s capital.
This online news platform understands that respondents had described the address of the former Vice President that urged the tribunal to sack Buhari and affirm him, president, as a “wild goose chase prayer’’.
The respondents had alleged that PDP erroneously allowed a candidate who was not a Nigerian by birth to contest the highest position, adding that such was an adventure that violated the provision of the constitution.
APC and President Buhari, therefore, prayed the tribunal to invoke Section 131 (a) of the constitution to dismiss the petition.
Naija News understands that section 131 (a) of the constitution strictly holds that a person must be a citizen of Nigeria by birth to qualify to contest the office of the president.
Buhari and his party noted that Abubakar was born on November 25, 1946, in Jada, a former Adamawa province of northern Cameroon before a plebiscite was conducted in 1961 that now made the enclave part of Nigeria.
The two respondents, therefore, alleged that Abubakar was not qualified to enter the contest as the constitution forbade him from canvassing for votes to become a president.
“We pray that the tribunal will see this constitutional reason and go ahead to uphold the election of the second respondent (Buhari) forthwith,’’ they prayed.
The two respondents, on the evidence admitted from the petitions, said they were empty as none had substantially proven series of the allegations made against the conduct of the election.
According to the two respondents, none of the 75 witnesses and 31,287 exhibits which included 48 video clips proved any of the petitioners’ allegations.
The two respondents said the petitioners had tried to mislead the tribunal and public that results from the election were transmitted electronically to a central server managed by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC).
APC and President Buhari noted that it was public knowledge that the February 23 general election was conducted with the electoral act of 2010 as amended.
“Moreover, the laws in Nigeria do not recognise but actually prohibit transmission of results electronically,” they submitted.
“Sections 52 and 78 of the Electoral Act 2010 have categorically addressed the issue.
“The only means of transmitting election results under the law are through Forms EC8 series. Form EC8A conveys results from Polling Units.
“It is only through these approved forms that election results can be challenged or proven and not through server, imaginary or real.’’
APC and Buhari, therefore, submitted that the petitioners’ allegation on the use of the server by INEC to transmit results was “criminal and misguided’’.
“Atiku Abubakar and the PDP have failed in their attempt to stridently prove their petition. The petitioners failed woefully to establish by credible evidence the existence of the imaginary server belonging to INEC,’’ they claimed.
The parties also argued that most of the witnesses presented by the petitioners attested to the fact that they signed all the forms that contained the results of the election without coercion.
The respondents, therefore, averred that such testimonies of truth from the petitioners’ witnesses further bestowed legitimacy on the outcome of the election.
On Buhari’s educational qualification, the respondents said that the petitioners failed to adduce credible and reliable evidence to establish that he (Buhari) indeed forged his certificate.
“While it is appropriate to debunk such baseless, mendacious and spurious assertion, it suffices to bring to fore the unequivocal provision of the constitution,” they said.
“The constitution is clear on this as it states the requirement for a candidate to contest the presidential election and occupy the office of the president.
“Section 131(d) provides that a person shall be qualified for election into the office of the president if he or she has been educated up to at least School Certificate level or its equivalent.
“More so, the consequence of submitting a forged document to INEC is grave.
“It, therefore, requires precise evidence and proof beyond reasonable doubt, which the petitioners have not been able to establish.’’
Drawing reference from the constitution, Buhari, and APC defined secondary school certificate or its equivalent to mean: secondary school certificate or its equivalent, or Grade II teacher’s certificate.
The two respondents listed others to include: city and guides certificate or education up to secondary school certificate level or primary six School leaving certificate or its equivalent and service in the public or private sector in the federation in any capacity acceptable to INEC for a minimum of 10 years.
“It is apparent that from the pleadings and evidence adduced led by the petitioners; there is no scintilla or iota of evidence to prove that the president was at the time of the election not qualified,” they said.
“It is trite that he who asserts must prove, we have clearly seen that the petitioners had failed woefully in this matter.
“In the circumstance, we urge the tribunal to dismiss the petition on the grounds of both technicalities and evidential failure and to affirm the election of the president.”
Naija News recalls that Buhari, who contested the election on the platform of the APC, was announced the winner by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), having scored a total of 15 million votes as against Abubakar’s 11,262,978 votes.
Meanwhile, Justice Mohammed Garba-led five-member panel awaits the parties to adopt their final addresses on August 21, preparatory to judgment.