The All Progressives Congress (APC), on Monday, submitted a notice of preliminary objection to the Presidential Election Petition Court (PEPC) in Abuja, requesting the dismissal of the petition filed by the Labour Party (LP) and its presidential candidate, Peter Obi. The petition challenges the victory of Bola Tinubu as the president-elect in the 25 February election.
In its submission, the APC, as the 4th respondent, urged the PEPC to reject the petition for lacking merit and being frivolous. The party argued that the petition should be dismissed with substantial cost.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reported that Mr Obi, the 1st petitioner, and LP, the 2nd petitioner, had sued the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), Mr Tinubu, Kashim Shettima, and APC as 1st to 4th respondents respectively. The petitioners are seeking the nullification of the election victory of Messrs Tinubu and Shettima in the 25 February presidential poll.
NAN reported that Mr Obi came third with 6,101,533 votes, while former Vice-President Atiku Abubakar of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) came second with 6,984,520 votes in the election. Atiku and the PDP are also challenging the outcome of the poll.
In the petition marked: CA/PEPC/03/2023 filed by Mr Obi and LP’s lead counsel, Livy Ozoukwu, they contended that Mr Tinubu “was not duly elected by the majority of the lawful votes cast at the time of the election.”
The petitioners claimed there was rigging in 11 states and that they would demonstrate this in the declaration of results based on the uploaded results.
They also alleged that INEC violated its own regulations when it announced the result despite the fact that at the time of the announcement, the totality of the polling unit results had yet to be fully scanned, uploaded, and transmitted electronically as required by the Electoral Act.
Among other prayers, the petitioners urged the tribunal to “determine that, at the time of the presidential election held on February 25, 2023, the 2nd and 3rd respondents (Tinubu and Shettima) were not qualified to contest the election. “That it be determined that on the basis of the remaining votes (after discountenancing the votes credited to the 2nd respondent) the 1st petitioner (Obi) scored a majority of the lawful votes cast at the election and had not less than 25 per cent of the votes cast in each of at least two-thirds of the states of the federation and the FCT and satisfied the constitutional requirements to be declared the winner of the Feb. 25 presidential election. “
That it be determined that the 2nd respondent (Tinubu), having failed to score one-quarter of the votes cast at the presidential election in the FCT was not entitled to be declared and returned as the winner of the presidential election held on Feb. 25.”
In response, the APC asked the court to dismiss the suit, stating that Mr Obi lacked the requisite “locus standi” to institute the petition because he was not a member of LP at least 30 days before the party’s presidential primary, which is necessary for valid sponsorship.
The party argued that Mr Obi was a member of PDP until May 24, 2022, and participated in the PDP’s presidential primary in April 2022. The party further stated that Mr Obi purportedly resigned from PDP on May 24, 2022, to join the Labour Party on May 27.