By Vivian Okejeme, Abuja
The Presidential Election Petition Tribunal, yesterday, reserved judgment on the petition filed by the Peoples Democratic Party and its presidential candidate, Alhaji Atiku Abubakar, challenging President Muhammadu Buhari’s victory at the February 23, 2019 poll.
The Chairman of the five man tribunal, Justice Mohammed Garba, reserved a date that would be communicated to parties after parties in the petition adopted their final written addresses.
Buhari through his counsel, Chief Wole Olanipekun SAN, in his final written addresses, maintained that there was no law to his knowledge that requires a candidate seeking election into the office of President of Nigeria to present any certificate qualifying him to contest the election.
He urged the tribunal to dismiss the petition on grounds that it lacked merit and lacking in substance.
On Buhari’s certificate, Olanipekun posited that the constitution and the case law do not expect any certificate to be attached to contest for the office of the president.
‘’ The argument is not tenable as there is no law that requires Buhari to tender any certificate in order to contest for the office of the president.
“The law of the land, constitution and case law do not expect any certificate to be tendered or attached.
‘’Witnesses called and documents tendered all proved that he was educated up to a secondary school level, as enshrined in section 318.
‘’We submits that the case of the petitioners was liable to be dismissed because it was not properly diagnosed,’’ he concluded.
The petitioner, Atiku and PDP, adopting all their oral and documentary evidences as their argument, insisted President Buhari lied on oath in his form CF001 submitted to the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to secure clearance for the election.
Atiku through his counsel, Livinus Uzoukwu SAN, said Buhari’s claims to possess three certificates, comprising Primary School leaving certificate, WAEC certificate and Officers Cadet certificate was not proved.
“No Provisional certificate, no certified true copy of the certificates, no photocopy of certificates and infact no electronic version of any of the certificates was presented by Buhari throughout the hearing of the petition to dispute the claim of the petitioners.
“It is even more worrisome that Buhari’s own witness Major General Paul Tafa Rtd, who joined the Nigerian Army with him in 1962 told the tribunal that they were not asked to submit their certificates to the Nigerian Army Board as claimed by Buhari in his form CF001.
“At any rate the Secretary of the Nigerian Army Board, Olatunde Olaleye, had in a statement clarified that Buhari had no single certificate in his personal file with the Nigerian Army.
‘’I urge your lordship to grant our reliefs.’’
Also, the All Progressive Party, APC, through its counsel, Latif Fagbemi SAN said the petitioner lacked quality evidence before the court to warrant the nullification of the election.
‘’They only called 62 witnesses and only five of the witnesses gave direct evidence of what happened at the polling unit.
‘’The expectation of the law is that poling units agents should be called in respect of their polling units.
‘’I submit that on the authorities that we sited, this matter has been starved evidence,’’
Similarly, Yinus Ustas Yusuf, adopting his addresses on behalf of INEC, insisted the election was conducted in total compliance with the Nigerian constitution and Electoral Act and urged the tribunal to dismiss the petition.
‘’The issue of transmittion of election result via server or electronically has been a greatest lie on itself.
‘’The electoral act itself prohibits the transmission of election result electronically.
‘’The Act and Manuals only provides for manual transmission of election result and that was what INEC did. The witnesses admitted to that under cross examination.
In its ruling, the tribunal headed by Justice Mohammed Garba, after listening to their submissions, reserved judgement to a date to be communicated to the parties.
Atiku and PDP had on March 18 filed their petition against the outcome of the presidential poll.
They alleged rigging, electoral malpractices amongst others and urged the tribunal to nullify the victory of Buhari at the poll.