By Raymond Adebayo
Sept. 6, 2023, 6:59 p.m.
The Presidential candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, Abubakar Atiku on Wednesday suffered a major setback in his legal battle to unseat Bola Ahmed Tinubu as Nigeria’s elected President.
This is as the Presidential Election Petition Tribunal struck out several paragraphs of the petition he relied upon to push for Tinubu’s removal.
Also several exhibits, including witnesses’ statements he tendered to establish his allegations of irregularities, malpractices against the February 25 presidential election were rejected and dis-countenanced by the Tribunal.
Delivering ruling in some objections argued by Chief Wole Olanipekun, SAN, on behalf of Tinubu, Justice Moses Ugoh held that several parts of Atiku’s petition have no legs upon which they can stand and survive, hence, not competent.
Like the fate that befell his counterpart in the Labour Party’s Peter Obi, the court said several facts fundermentally required to support the petition were not provided by Atiku.
Among others, Atiku was said to have failed and neglected to name places where ballot boxes were snatched, the ways and manners the BVAS machine were manipulated and names of polling boots where alleged malpractices took place.
The petitioner, who claimed to have polled majority of lawful votes, was said to have failed to state in clear terms, the total lawful votes he claimed to have scored.
The Court held that Atiku alleged that Tinubu did not score majority of lawful votes but refused to make the perceived lawful votes known in his petition to the Tribunal.
Similarly, the Tribunal said that the former Vice President made grievous allegations against Kogi State Governor, Yahaya Bello and Chairman of Olamaboro Local Government of Kogi, Friday Adejoh but neglected to join them as respondents in the petition.
Justice Ugoh held that failure to join the Governor, who was accused of electoral fraud, was fatal to the petition because the Governor was denied opportunity to defend himself as required by law.
The Tribunal dismissed the the allegations of over voting all over Nigeria by the petitioner, adding that such pleadings run foul of the law because the specific places where the alleged over voting took place were not mentioned.
Atiku’s petition was also faulted on the ground that it introduced several facts and allegations in unlawful ways that caught the respondents unaware, adding that the tactic employed was unfair and made him clever by half.
Among the offending new facts said to have been wrongfully introduced by Atiku were the allegations of criminal conviction, certificate forgery, dual citizenship of Guinea made against Tinubu outside the mode of filing petition.
Justice Stephen Jonah Adah who read another ruling on objections against the petition expunged several documents tendered by Atiku on the ground that the exhibits were made during the pendency of the petition.
Also the evidence of several key witnesses of Atiku were expunged from the Court record having been made in manners not known to law.
The Tribunal held that the wrongful mode adopted by the PDP’s presidential candidate in the construction of the petition made several paragraphs of the petition liable for striking out for want of merit.