Atiku, PDP insist Buhari not qualified to contest 2019 election

The presidential candidate of the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) in the last presidential election and his party have insisted that they proved their claim the President Muhammadu Buhari was not qualified to contest the election.

They also insisted that the results of the election were transmitted electronically to a central server allegedly owned by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC).

Atiku and the PDP, who are petitioners before Presidential Election Petition Court (PEPC) said they were able to establish allegation of malpractices and non-compliance with Electoral Act in the 11 focal states in which they contest the outcome of the last presidential election.

They argued that INEC’s failure to call witnesses amounted to its admission of all the allegations raised in the petition and those contained in the evidence provided by their witnesses.

Their position is contained in a 43-page final written address which they submitted before the court as their final argument in the case.

The petitioners, in the written address, raised five issues for determinations and urged the court to uphold their petition.  The issues raised include: Whether the 2nd respondent  (Buhari) was at the time of the election not qualified to contest the election; whether the 2nd respondent submitted to the 1st respondent (INEC) affidavit containing false information of a fundamental nature in aid of his qualification for the said election and whether from the pleadings and evidence led it was established that the 2nd respondent was duly elected by majority of lawful votes cast at the election.

Others are: Whether the presidential election conducted by the 1st respondent on 23rd February 2019 was invalid by reason of corrupt practices and whether the presidential election conducted by the 1st respondent on 23″ February 2019 was invalid by reason of non-compliance with the Electoral Act. 2010 (as amended) and the Electoral Guidelines 2019 and manuals issued for the conduct of elections.

As it relates to Buhari’s qualification, the petitioners argued that they have proved their case and claimed that the President’s non-attachment of his certificate to the Form CF001 he submitted to INEC implied that he did not possess it.

“The summary of the Petitioners’ case on the pleadings in respect of the non-qualification of the 2nd respondent is in paragraphs 388 to 405 of the Petition. The case is that the 2nd respondent did not possess the certificates relating to the qualifications, which he claimed in his Form CF001.

“The 2nd respondent had listed his educational credentials in proof of his qualification to contest the election in the said form, which he then submitted to the 1st respondent. The qualifications claimed by the 2nd respondent were (a) First School Leaving Certificate; (b) West African School Certificate (WASC); and (c) Officer Cadet (whatever that means). None of the alleged certificates was attached to Exhibit P1.

“The Petitioners submit that the 2nd respondent was not qualified to contest the presidential election because the 2nd respondent failed to satisfy the mandatory requirements of Section 131 (d) of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999

On INEC’s failure to call witnesses, the petitioners argued that while the electoral body pleaded, in kits reply to the petition, that it found the 2ndrespondent‘s educational qualification acceptable, at trial, “the 1st respondent abandoned its pleadings and did not call any of the witnesses it had listed, or any other.

“Nobody testified to the alleged acceptability of the 2nd respondent’s qualification. Where no evidence is led in support of a party‘s pleadings, the pleadings are deemed abandoned.

“The burden therefore remained squarely on the 2nd respondent to prove his qualification under Sections 318(1) (a) and (b) since limbs (c) and (d), which are anchored on evidence of acceptability to the 1st respondent, were abandoned at the trial.”

As it relates to their claim of the existence of a server, the petitioners said: “In an undoubted failed effort to deny the fact of e-collation and e-transmission of results, the respondents made contradictory and inconsistent claims in their unconvincing efforts to deny the existence of INEC Server[s] or Central Server.

“If they had appreciated what a sever is, they should not have wasted valuable time denying what is obvious or making inconsistent claims.” (The Nation)

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