THE ruling All Progressives Congress, APC, and main opposition Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, yesterday, disagreed fiercely over the outcome of the 2023 presidential poll.
While the PDP described the victory of the APC and President-elect, Asiwaju Bola Tinubu as an electoral heist that must not be allowed to stand, the APC countered that its presidential flag bearer’s victory reflected the will of Nigerians.
The ruling party added that it did not supply the Bimodal Voters Accreditation System, BVAS, machines used for the conduct of the polls to the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, as alleged by PDP.
APC’s electoral victory must not stand — PDP PCC
The PDP Presidential Campaign Council, PCC, said for Nigeria to regain its pride of place in the comity of nations, the results of the 2023 presidential election as announced by the INEC must not be allowed to stand.
Director, of Planning and Strategy of the PDP PCC, Don Pedro Obaseki, said this at a media chat in Abuja, yesterday.
He said that the brazen manner in which the last election was rigged made it near impossible for any serious nation to take Nigeria seriously as far as democracy and the rule of law were concerned.
Obaseki said: “We have gone through a round of the most dastardly skewed election in the history of this country, I don’t want to say since the return to democracy. It is an accepted fact that this election was indeed brazenly rigged beyond all known ethics and ramifications.
“However, what is a little bit disturbing in the media space, particularly in the social media space, is that the election was stolen. But from whom was it stolen?
“There must be a frontline, primary victim of the theft. The first-degree victim of that is my party and presidential candidate, Atiku Abubakar.
Worst election since 1960
“Secondly, we are aware that in Nigeria since 1960 at independence and since we became a Republic in 1963, no court has upturned even the most brazen election before now. All those elections pale in comparison to what befell Nigerians in 2023.”
The PDP campaign director further explained that it is important that the Nigerian judiciary be put on notice that the essence of the Nigerian state is at stake. As such, whatever decision the Justices of the Supreme Court and all those involved in the process of adjudication in this electoral matter must take into account the spirit and the letter of the constitution.
Judiciary must save Nigeria
He further said: “The onus lies upon them to look at both the spirit and letters of the law and the very marginalized feelings of every Nigerian and do what is right and correct in the public domain so as to save this country and the sanctity of our common wealth.
“They must understand that the 2023 presidential election tribunal proceeding is not just the petitioner and the respondent that are on trial. It is the Nigerian judiciary that is on trial.
Judicary on trial
“This is why I called my friends (in the media) as those who are the Fourth Estate of the Realm and those who must be the forebearers of the conscience of this country so that we begin to talk and not be dwarfed in the noise of the theft and the real election results not the ones that Mahmood Yakubu announced.
“And the implications therefrom of the commission’s official position that has been taken by Mahmood Yakubu in pronouncing the APC presidential flag bearer the winner of the election.
“I was in the very fulcrum, the very engine room. I was in charge of strategy, from drafting, to curating and monitoring of the elections from all the 176,000 plus polling units across the country.
“I know who won not only because the person is my principal but because the truth must be told. We can no longer continue in this blatant disregard of our people.”
Tinubu’s victory reflects the will of Nigerians — APC
On its part, the APC tackled the PDP Presidential Candidate, Alhaji Atiku Abubakar, accusing him of raising spurious and wild allegations in his bid to discredit the INEC.
The ruling party, in a fresh process it filed before the Presidential Election Petition Court, PEPC, sitting in Abuja, said there was no truth in Atiku’s allegation that its leadership was involved in the supply of BVAS machines that INEC deployed for the conduct of the general elections.
APC said it was not aware that INEC procured the BVAS machines from a company belonging to one of its members.
“That even if Senator Muhammed Sani Musa is a director of Actirate Technologies Limited, he has nothing to do with the operations and day-to-day activities of the company,” APC averred in a written statement on oath it filed to counter Atiku’s petition against its candidate and President-elect, Bola Tinubu. The party further dismissed Atiku’s claim that INEC compromised by awarding contract for the production of sensitive materials that were used for the general elections, to a company owned by one of its chieftains.
Even though it admitted that a firm linked to its governorship candidate in Adamawa State, Aisha Dalhatu, got the contract to supply electoral materials to INEC, the ruling party insisted that the said contract did not affect the outcome of the 2023 general elections.
“That I know that Binani Printing Press Limited had been involved in printing and supplies for several years before the 2023 election.
“That I know that Aisha Dalhatu, though a director in Binani Printing Press Limited, but only in a nominal sense as she was never involved in the day-to-day running and activities of the company.
“That there are other directors of Binani Printing Press Limited who are responsible for the day–to–day running of the company and have nothing to do with politics.
“That the award of the contract for the supply of electoral materials to be used for the 2023 election to Binani Printing Press Limited has nothing to do with Aisha Dalhatu who was the Gubernatorial candidate of the All Progressives Congress for Adamawa State for the 2023 general election.
“That I know that Binani Printing Press Limited is a separate and distant body from the person of Aisha Dalhatu.
“That the award of contracts of any kind matching supplies of materials by the 1st Respondent (INEC) always follows a due process that cannot be compromised.
“That the award of contracts for the supply of materials to Binani Printing Press Limited followed due process and was purely on merit.
“That I know as a fact that Binani Printing Press Limited employs global best practices in all its operations matching duty of confidentiality to its numerous clients, including the 1st respondent.
“That the engagement of Binani Printing Press Limited by the 1st respondent was based on competence and experience. “That I know that the engagement of both Binani Printing Press Limited and Actirate Technologies Limited by the 1st Respondent did not in any way affect the conduct of the election of 25th February, 2023 either in favour of the 2nd and 3rd Respondents or any political party at all.
“That it is not true that the 3rd Respondent’s leadership were involved in the supply of BVAS and all or any electoral materials to the 1st respondent for the election of the 25th February 2023,” APC added.
While praying the court to dismiss Atiku’s petition, the APC argued that the presidential election that was won by its candidate, Tinubu, “met all the requirements of a credible election and reflected the will of the Nigerian electorate”.
It said the election was adjudged by independent and unbiased observers to be “credible and an assurance that Nigeria is on the path to its democratic glory”.
It told the court that no reliable observer, “except those sponsored by the petitioners and their collaborators, condemned the election due to the alleged failure to electronically transmit and upload the results in real-time as wildly alleged by the petitioners, when the Electoral Act and the Regulation and Guidelines for the conduct of the election have not made provisions for same”.
Besides, APC contended that the court has no jurisdiction to adjudicate on allegations that Atiku and the PDP raised in their petition, which it said lacked necessary facts or particulars as required by Paragraph 4(1)(d) of the Rules of Procedure for election petition (First Schedule to the Electoral Act, 2022).
Tinubu’s academic qualifications
On the issue of qualification, the APC listed Tinubu’s academic certificates as part of the documents it will enter into evidence before the court, saying Atiku’s contention was “vague, bare and meaningless as having the constitutional threshold is not part of the requirement to contest an election”.
It said Atiku’s petition was devoid of necessary particulars/information to support allegations of corrupt practices, violence and non-compliance with provisions of the Electoral Act.
“The 2nd Respondent (Tinubu) was duly elected by a majority of the lawful votes cast at the presidential election held on 25th February 2023 and scored the highest number of votes as well as one-quarter of lawful votes at the election in each of at least two-thirds of all the states in the Federation.
“Respondent denies the allegation contained in paragraph 33 of the petition that the 1st Respondent (INEC) employed a third-party device or any device at all for the purpose of intercepting, quarantining, warehousing and filtering election results before releasing same to the IRev portal. The Petitioners are put to the strictest proof of the allegations.
“Respondent denies paragraphs 34 of the Petition and avers further that the 1st Respondent complied with the prescribed procedure for the election and deployment of technology in respect thereof. The Petitioners are put to the strictest proof of the averments therein.
“It is not correct that the glitch or technical issue disclosed by the 1st Respondent was a bypass to tilt and switch the results of the Presidential Election in favour of the 2nd and 3rd Respondents as nothing of such happened;
“With specific reference to paragraph 38 alleging that INEC must electronically transmit the result from pooling units, Respondent states and will show that in keeping with discretion given to INEC by the Electoral Act, 2022 as to mode of transfer or delivery of election results from polling units to the Registration Areas (ward) collation centre, INEC expressly notified all political parties and the general public three clear days to the 25th February 2023 presidential election that raw votes would not be electronically transmitted as would have been the case under Paragraph 38 (i) of the Electoral Regulations and Guidelines, 2022 and besides, no timeline or deadline was given within which to transmit the result. The Respondent plead the press release by the chairman of the 1st Respondent.
“The 1st Respondent did not use any device manager to quarantine results from the polling unit prior to transmission to its portal and there was no room as a matter of fact, the 1st Respondent did not upload any wrong result.
“Respondent shall further contend during the hearing of this Petition that the Petitioner’s claim of being winner of the election is a direct violation of human sensibilities as the agitation in paragraph 52 of the Petition that the entire presidential election of 25 February 2022 is unlawful, illegal, wrongful, null, void and same is inconsistent with the claim that the Petitioners ought to be returned as winners of the election”.
More so, the APC told the court that contrary to Atiku’s claim in his petition, it was not a mandatory requirement of the Constitution for a candidate to score twenty-five per cent of the votes cast in the Federal Capital Territory to be declared elected as President.
“It is sufficient if a candidate for election as President scores the highest number of votes cast at the election and has not less than one-quarter of the votes cast at the election in at least two-thirds of all the States in the Federation as is the case in the instant election.
“A candidate who scored the majority of the votes cast at a Presidential Election and secured one-quarter of the votes cast at the election in at least two-thirds of all the States in the Federation, need NOT obtained twenty-five per cent of the votes cast in the FCT to be entitled to be declared winner of the election.
“The inclusion or addition of the FCT, Abuja, by the provision of the Constitution, did not attach special or unique condition or recognition to the Federal Capital Territory but to give Federal Capital Territory parallel recognition with other states of the Federation.
“The 2nd Respondent having scored the highest number of majority of lawful votes at the said election and satisfied the constitutional threshold, there is no need for a runoff election simply because 2nd Respondent did not poll up to 25% of the votes cast in FCT as that would be invalidating the votes of all the electorates looking for fresh votes all over 36 states again”, APC added.
Whipping up sentiments won’t help PDP’s case –APC PCC
In its response to the PDP PCC’s attack on its victory, the Presidential Campaign Council PCC of the APC counselled the PDP to refrain from using underhand tactics in its lame attempt to prove an electoral heist in the last Presidential election. Gideon Obhakhan, a former Commissioner for Education in Edo State, and Secretary, Public Affairs Directorate at the Tinubu/Shettima Presidential Campaign Council gave the charge on Wednesday in a chat with Vanguard.
The APC PCC official said: “In every election, a winner must emerge. The 2022 Electoral Act is clear regarding what any political party or candidate must do if they are not satisfied with the results or the processes leading to the official declaration of such results.
“Any attempt to threaten the Judiciary or engage in emotional blackmail tactics in order to whip up sentiments, will resort to an exercise in futility.
“Our President-elect, Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu was massively voted for by Nigerians and INEC has performed its role judiciously by declaring a winner in accordance with the electoral laws and the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.
“I will like to use this opportunity to admonish aggrieved parties to follow the laid down procedures to challenge the outcome of the election. Having already gone to court, it is unnecessary to resort to the court of public opinion which will yield no positive result whatsoever. We must join hands to build this nation rather than take any path that will lead to anarchy.” Vanguard.
A.Tags: Aisha Dalhatu APC Asiwaju Bola Tinubu INEC PDP