The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) has asked the Presidential Election Petitions Tribunal in Abuja to dismiss a petition filed by the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and its presidential candidate, Atiku Abubakar, against the President-elect, Bola Tinubu.
INEC’s attorney, Abubakar Mahmoud, in a response to the petition, told the court that Tinubu, the candidate of the All Progressives Congress (APC), met all the legal requirements to be announced as the winner of the Saturday, February 25, presidential election.
Abubakar, the first petitioner, and PDP, the second petitioner, had listed INEC, Tinubu, and APC as the first, second, and third respondents, respectively, in the petition with the file number CA/PEPC/05/2023.
The Guardian report that Tinubu defeated 17 other candidates who took part in the election and scored a total of 8,794,726 votes, While Atiku Abubakar came in second with 6,984,520 votes in the poll, Peter Obi, the candidate of the Labour Party, came in third with 6,101,533 votes.
The petitioners, however, are requesting that the tribunal set aside Tinubu’s victory, issue an order directing INEC to reclaim the certificate of return given to the APC candidate, and declare Abubakar the winner of the election or, failing that, hold new elections.
But INEC, the first respondent, told the Presidential Election Petition Court (PEPC) that Tinubu did not need to win 25 percent of the votes cast in the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) to be declared the winner of the election.
The commission stated that Tinubu met all legal requirements to be named the election’s winner and pointed out that a candidate did not need to win 25% of the vote in the FCT to be declared the winner, contrary to what some political parties and candidates who lost the election had falsely claimed.
“Having scored at least one-quarter of the valid votes cast in 29 states, which is over and above the 2/3 states threshold required by the constitution, in addition to scoring the majority of the lawful votes cast at the election, the 2nd respondent was properly declared winner and returned as the president-elect of the Federal Republic of Nigeria,” INEC noted.
INEC also insisted that it declare Tinubu the winner of the election, considering that he scored the highest number of valid votes cast at the election and at least 25 percent of the votes cast in not less than two-thirds of the states of the federation and the country’s capital.
The commission also argued that the declaration and return of Tinubu was not wrongful and was made in accordance with the provisions of Section 134 (2) (b) of the Constitution, having scored one-quarter (25%) of the valid votes cast in 29 states, which is beyond the constitutional threshold for such a declaration.
When responding to Atiku’s petition, INEC claimed that the PDP candidate could not have been declared the victor by the tribunal because he had not complied with the constitutional requirement.
“The petitioners neither scored the majority of the lawful votes cast at the election nor scored not less than one-quarter of the lawful votes cast in at least two-thirds of the 36 states of the Federation and the Federal Capital Territory, and therefore the 1st petitioner (Atiku) is not entitled to be returned as the winner of the presidential election conducted on Feb. 25,” INEC noted.
According to INEC, the election was conducted in substantial compliance with the 2022 Electoral Act and was not marred by any corrupt practices.
The commission also noted that it kept its promise to Nigerians by conducting free, fair, transparent, and credible elections by deploying the BVAS device to conduct voter accreditation electronically and uploading scanned copies of polling unit election results to the IRev portal.