In a dramatic turn of events at the Presidential Election Petition Court (PEPC) in Abuja, Mr Peter Obi, the Labour Party (LP) candidate who claimed that the 2023 presidential election was rigged, presented 136 additional exhibits on Friday to bolster his allegations.
Justice Haruna Tsammani, leading a five-member panel, admitted the exhibits as evidence. These exhibits included the certified true copies of the presidential election results from six states: Adamawa, Bayelsa, Oyo, Edo, Lagos, and Akwa Ibom. The results, contained in Forms EC8A, were obtained from the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC).
Earlier, Obi had already submitted results from 115 Local Government Areas (LGAs) in Rivers, Niger, Benue, Cross River, Osun, and Ekiti. During the proceedings on Friday, the petitioners sought permission to present additional results from six LGAs in Rivers State, which were admitted and marked as Exhibits PB 16 to PB 21.
However, INEC expressed opposition to the admissibility of the additional results from Rivers State, considering them “strange” and unrelated to their records. INEC’s legal team, led by Mr. Kemi Pinhero, SAN, stated that they would provide detailed reasons for their objection in their final written address.
Similarly, the legal representatives of President Bola Tinubu, Vice President Kashim Shettima, and the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC), Chief Akin Olujinmi, SAN, and Prince Lateef Fagbemi, SAN, respectively, also challenged the admissibility of the results as evidence.
The respondents stated that they would present their objections in their final written address, reserving their reasons for opposing the admissibility of the election results.
Following this, Obi and the LP submitted additional results from Bida LGA in Niger State, which were admitted as Exhibit PE 24.
The court admitted results from 21 LGAs in Adamawa state as Exhibits PH 1 to PH 21. Additionally, results from 8 LGAs in Bayelsa state were marked as Exhibits PJ 1 to PJ 8. Results from 31 LGAs in Oyo were admitted as Exhibits PK 1 to PK 31, while results from 18 LGAs in Edo were marked as Exhibits PL 1 to PL 18. Furthermore, results from 20 LGAs in Lagos state were presented as Exhibits PM 1 to PM 20, and results from 31 LGAs in Akwa Ibom state were accepted as Exhibits PN 1 to PN 31.
It is worth noting that although Obi emerged as the winner of the presidential election in Lagos state, he alleged in his petition that there was significant voter suppression, with electorates being openly harassed or intimidated, potentially impacting the outcome.
In a consensus decision, the panel, led by Justice Tsammani, decided to change its initial plan to continue the hearing on Saturday. Despite Dr. Livy Uzoukwu, SAN, the lead counsel for the petitioners, expressing readiness to proceed on Saturday, the respondents’ counsels took turns requesting a shift in further hearing to the following Monday. The panel acceded to this request.
Obi and the LP had previously stated their intention to call 50 witnesses in the case. Their joint petition challenges President Tinubu’s victory and asserts that he was ineligible to participate in the presidential contest. They argue that Tinubu’s running mate, Shettima, was still the nominated candidate of the APC for the Borno Central Senatorial election when he became the Vice Presidential candidate.
The petitioners further contest Tinubu’s eligibility by claiming that he was previously indicted and fined $460,000.00 by the United States District Court, Northern District of Illinois, Eastern Division, in Case No: 93C 4483, for an offense involving dishonesty and drug trafficking.
Based on their argument that the election was marred by corrupt practices and non-compliance with the Electoral Act, 2022, the petitioners assert that INEC violated its own regulations and guidelines.
Among their prayers, the petitioners request the court to declare that all the votes cast for Tinubu and the APC were invalid due to his disqualification and non-qualification.