Tribunal dismisses Atiku, PDP petition, Buhari victory affirmed

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The Presidential Election Petition Tribunal has upheld the declaration of President Muhammadu Buhari by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) as the winner of the February 23 presidential election.

Accordingly, the Tribunal unanimously dismissed the petition by the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) and its candidate, Atiku Abubakar, challenging the outcome of the election for lacking in merit.

Justice Muhammed Garba in his lead judgment held that the petitioners had failed to prove the allegations raised in their petition.

The Tribunal held that President Buhari possessed the requisite qualification to contest the February 23 presidential election.

It equally held that the petitioners had failed to prove that Buhari was not qualified to contest the election and that he lied about his educational qualifications in the Form CF 001 he submitted to the INEC to contest the presidential poll.

The Tribunal also held that 1999 Constitution, as amended, and the Electoral Act only made provision for manual collation of results using the Form EC8 series.

It held that there was no evidence before it that the results of the 2019 presidential election from polling units were transmitted electronically via the smart card into the server.

It was the position of the INEC guidelines and manual collation cannot be elevated above the provision of the Election Act.

The Tribunal said the petitioners failed to call relevant witnesses to prove their case. The evidence of the petitioners lacked probative value as they relied on hearsay evidence which was not admissible in law.

It also held that the failure of the petitioners to call vital witnesses who participated in the conduct of the election was fatal to their case.

“The evidence of PW 3, 4, 15, 56, 59 and 60 (others) lacked any probative value and cannot be relied upon by the court. They were not physically on the ground and did not also participated in the conduct of the election but relied on information from party agents which amounts to hearsay evidence.”