By Yemi Oyeyem, Abuja.
The Presidential candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party PDP, Alhaji Abubakar Atiku has asked the Presidential Election Petition Tribunal to uphold the declaration of the Independent National Electoral Commission INEC that he (Atiku) won 21 States in the February 25 presidential election.
Atiku made the request in his final address filed at the Presidetial Election Petitions Court (PEPC) on July 20 in support of his joint petition with PDP seeking the nullification of INEC’S declaration of Ahmed Bola Tinubu as winner of the poll.
In the final address settled by his lead counsel, Chief Chris Uche SAN, Atiku said that INEC’s assertion that he won in 21 States was neither disputed, retracted, debunked not claimed to be error throughout the proceedings of the Tribunal so far.
INEC had, in its response to Atiku’s petition, asserted that the PDP presidential candidate won 21 States of the Federation in the last presidential poll.
The 21 states listed by INEC as having been won by Atiku and PDP are Adamawa, Akwa Ibom. Bauchi. Bavelsa. Borno, Delta, Ekiti, Gombe, Jigawa, Kaduna, Katsina. Kebbi. Kogi. Kwara, Nasarawa, Niger, Osun, Sokoto, Taraba, Yobe, and Zamfara.
The former Vice President said that since the Independent National Electoral Commission, which on its own averments claimed that he won states and did not rebut the assertion throughout the proceedings, the Tribunal should proceed to uphold the declaration.
The final written address reads in part “Very importantly, the 1st Respondent (INEC) who conducted the election made an open admission in paragraph 18 of its Reply to the Petition, where it unequivocally stated thus:
“The 1st Respondent further avers that in compliance with extant laws and regulations, it diligently discharged its duties when it collated the 1st Petitioner’s (Atiku) scores at the election which aggregates to 6,984,520 winning only 21 States to wit: Adamawa, Akwa Ibom. Bauchi. Bavelsa. Borno, Delta, Ekiti, Gombe, Jigawa, Kaduna, Katsina. Kebbi. Kogi. Kwara, Nasarawa, Niger, Osun, Sokoto, Taraba, Yobe and Zamfara.”
“Indeed, as admitted by the 1st Respondent (INEC), the 1st Petitioner (Atiku) won in these 21 States. It is important to note that throughout the trial, the ist Respondent (INEC) neither refuted nor countermanded this critical averment nor denied it.
“We urge your Lordship to hold that this constitutes an admission that requires no further proof. It also constitutes an admission against interest.
“The 1st Petitioner (Atiku) contested election to the office of the President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria under the platform of the 2nd Petitioner, the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) which held on 25th February 2023, along with 17 other candidates, including the 2nd Respondent, (Tinubu) who was the candidate of the ruling party, the All Progressives Congress (APC), in whose favour the electoral body, the “Independent” National Electoral Commission (INEC) manipulated the technologies earlier put in place to ensure transparency, and wrongfully returned the said 2nd Respondent (Tinubu) as winner at about 4.00am on is March 2023, at a time the 1st Respondent admitted that substantial percentage of the results had not been transmitted to the collation system for verification as required by law.
“Under the cover of the so-called “technical glitch” excuse which the Respondent (INEC) never explained, the results were deliberately manipulated through suppression and discounting of the votes of the 1st Petitioner (Atiku) and inflation of the votes of the 2nd Respondent (Tinubu).
“This deliberate bypass of the use of the prescribed verification technology was nationwide, and substantially affected the outcome of the election.
“The said 1st Respondent (INEC) equally proceeded to declare the 2nd Respondent (Tinubu) winner when the 2nd Respondent (Tinubu) did not meet the mandatory constitutional requirement to secure not less than a quarter of the votes cast in the Federal Capital Territory, Abuja.
“This was in addition to the numerous infractions and corrupt practices perpetrated by the Respondents.
“Notwithstanding, the 1st Respondent (INEC) unequivocally and clearly admitted in its pleadings, namely paragraph 18 at page 13 of its Reply to the Petition, which was never refuted or nor retracted, that the Petitioners won 21 States of the Federation in the presidential election, which is an admission against interest.
“As a result of non-use of collation by electronic transmission, the 1st Respondent (INEC) later altered the admitted result of 21 States for the 1st Petitioner to 12 States,” the final address said.
Atiku, therefore, pleaded with the Tribunal to uphold the assertion of INEC in the process and declare him the winner of the February 25 Presidetial Election.