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Details of Peter Obi/Labour Party’s appeal at Supreme Court against PEPC judgment [pt. 1]

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On 9th September, 2023, Mr. Peter Gregory Obi and his Labour Party (LP) appealed against the judgment of the Presidential Election Petition Court (PEPC) at the Supreme Court containing 51 grounds of appeal.

The appeal was consequent upon the PEPC Judgment delivered on the 6th day of September 2023, which dismissed the Petition filed by Peter Obi/Labour Party “against the unlawful return and declaration of Bola Ahmed Tinubu as the winner of the presidential election held on 25th February, 2023.

The appeal is predicated on the Notice of Appeal filed in the Supreme Court of Nigeria holden at Abuja with file number SC/CV/937/2023 against petition number: CA/PEPC/03/2023 with the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), Senator Bola Ahmed Tinubu, Senator Shettima Kashim and the All Progressives Congress (APC) as Respondents.

In the statement of relevant facts in the appellants’ brief of arguments, Peter Obi/Labour Party condemned the failure of INEC to play by its own rules in transmitting the result of the election in the polling units using the Bimodal Voter Accreditation System (BVAS) to the INEC Result Viewing Portal (IReV).

Peter Obi/Labour Party stated:

“As the statutory background/foundation for the conduct of 2023 General Election, including the questioned Presidential election, the Electoral Act 2022, made significant introduction for the use of technology in the conduct of the election. Pursuant to the powers donated by the Electoral Act 2022, the 1st Respondent (INEC) promulgated the Regulations and Guidelines for the conduct of General Election 2022 (“the Regulations”) and the Manual for Election Officials 2023 (“the Manual”) as subsidiary legislations.

“Both the Regulations and the Manual for Election Officials arc subsidiary legislation made under and pursuant to the Electoral Act 2022. It was provided for in the Regulations and Manual for Election Officials that, as a means of ensuring the integrity and transparency of the process, the result of the election in the polling units will be transmitted using the Bimodal Voter Accreditation System (BVAS) to the INEC Result Viewing Portal (IReV).”

Peter Obi/Labour Party also recalled how Bola Tinubu forfeited the sum of $460,000 being proceeds of narcotics trafficking and money laundering which was admitted as Exhibit.

The appellants also showed at the trial that in 18,088 polling units, the alleged results of the election uploaded on the IReV were blurred copies, besides the certified true copy (CTCs) of 8,123 blurred/blank/unreadable/irrelevant images as copies of the election results in their possession.

The appeal continues:

“At the trial before the Court below, the certified true copy (CTC) of the Order of Forfeiture made by the United States District Court of Northern Illinois “Forfeiting the sum of $460,000 against the Accounts in the name of Bola Tinubu” which said sum represents “proceeds of narcotics trafficking and money laundering” was admitted as Exhibit PAS.

“The Appellants also pleaded and adduced credible evidence to show that the 2nd Respondent was disqualified from contesting the Presidential Election on the ground of double nomination of the 3rd Respondent. It is also the Appellants’ case that the 1st Respondent failed to electronically transmit the result of the election as required by the Electoral Act, the Regulations and the Manual due to an unsubstantiated alleged “technological glitch” on the day of the questioned election.

“It was shown at the trial that in 18,088 polling units, the alleged results of the election uploaded on the IReV were blurred copies. Apart from the 18,088 blurred copies referred to above, the 1st Respondent gave to the Appellants CTCs of 8,123 blurred/blank/unreadable/irrelevant images as copies of the election results in their possession. The Court below expunged the evidence of ten (10) Witnesses who were subpoenaed to testify by the Court.

“The Court held so even when it is clear that the evidence of these subpoenaed witnesses was in line with facts on which issues have already been joined by the parties and was not new or fresh evidence. It is also common ground that the 2nd Respondent as the candidate of the 4th Respondent in the questioned Presidential election, did not obtain the mandatory 25% of the votes cast in the Federal Capital Territory as required by Section 134(2) of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999 (as amended).”

Peter Obi/Labour Party, therefore, underscored seven issues for determination as follows:

1. Whether upon a community reading of the Appellants’ Petition and the applicable law, the learned Justices of the Court of Appeal were right in striking out/expunging wine paragraphs of the Petition and the documentary evidence tendered by the Appellants for being vague, generic, imprecise, nebulous and inadmissible. [Grounds I, 2, 3, 4, 5, 16, 17 and 50 of the Notice of Appeal).

2. Whether upon a careful consideration of the Appellants’ Petition, the Respondents’ respective Replies to the Petition and the Appellants’ Replies to the Replies of the Respondents, the learned Justices of the Court of Appeal were right when they struck out some paragraphs of the Appellants’ Replies to the Replies of the Respondents to the Petition [Grounds 6 and 20 of the Notice of Appeal).

3. Whether having regard to the relevant provisions of the Electoral Act, 2022 as well as the 1m Schedule thereto, the Federal High Court (Civil Procedure) Rules 2019, Evidence Act, 2011 and current judicial pronouncements on the point, the learned Justices of the Court of Appeal, were correct in sustaining the objections of the Respondents to the evidence of PW3, PW4, PW5, PW6, PW7, PWS, PW9, PW10, PW1 I and PW13 and consequently striking out the evidence of the aforesaid witnesses and all the documents tendered and admitted in evidence through them for failure of the Appellants to file the written statements on oath of the witnesses along with the Petition. (Grounds 10, I I, 12, 13, 14 and 15 of the Notice of Appeal).

4. Whether having regard to the provisions of Sections 131(c), 137(1Xd) and 142(1) and (2) of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999 (as amended) [herein a (ler 1999 Constitution), Sections 31 and 35 of the Electoral Act, 2022 and the evidence before the Court, the learned Justices of the Court of Appeal were right when they held that the 21″ and 3s Respondents were qualified to contest the Presidential Election of 25 February 2023. [Grounds 33, 34, 35, 36, 37, 38, 39, 40, 41, 42, 43 and 44 of the Notice of Appeal).

5. Whether having regard to the evidence adduced by the parties, the Learned Justices of the Court of Appeal were right when they held that the Appellants were not able to establish that them was substantial non-compliance with the provisions of the Electoral Act 2022, which substantially affected the overall result of the election. [Grounds 7, 8, 9, 18, 21, 22, 23, 24, 25, 26, 27, 28, 29, 30 and 31 of the Notice of Appeal).

6. Whether having regard to the explicit provisions of Section 134(2) (b) of the 1999 Constitution and the evidence adduced at the trial, the learned Justices of the Court of Appeal were right in coining to the determination that the 2nd Respondent was duly elected as the President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria. [Grounds 45, 46, 47, 48 and 49 of the Notice of Appeal).

7. Whether from the totality of the pleadings and evidence adduced, the Court below was right when it dismissed the Appellants’ case [Ground 51 of the Notice of Appeal].

To be continued in Part 2…

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