Atiku gathers 17 SANs to fight Tinubu
…as Obi says no going back on legal battle
The Presidential candidate of the PDP, Atiku Abubakar, has inaugurated a legal team consisting of 17 Senior Advocates of Nigeria (SANs) to challenge the outcome of the presidential election which has been surrounded with controversial resistance.
Recall the leadership of PDP and its PCC had said they were still searching and consulting for a legal team that would handle the petition of Atiku’s petition at the presidential election tribunal.
The team of the former Vice President combined no fewer than 17 Senior Advocates of Nigeria (SAN), trailing that of APC’s and its presidential candidate in the recently held presidential election, Asiwaju Bola Tinubu, which combined 13 SANs in their defence team.
The development has revealed no fewer than 30 SANs are now in the contest of the legal battle.
Atiku while inaugurating the legal team at his campaign headquarters in Abuja, charged members to establish the claim of illegality in the Feb. 25 presidential election and reclaim the mandate of the Nigerian people.
The PDP candidate instructed the legal team that apart from reclaiming the mandate from those who “undertook the electoral heist,” they should also use the opportunity of the trial to strengthen constitutional democracy in the Country.
In his brief to the team, which is being headed by Chief J. K. Gadzama (SAN), at the conference room of his office at the campaign headquarters, Atiku said it was imperative that they work assiduously in reclaiming the mandate not necessarily because of him and the PDP, “but to strengthen democracy and the electoral process and for generations unborn.”
Those listed as members of the team include: Chief Chris Uche (SAN), Mr. Paul Usoro (SAN), Tayo Jegede (SAN), Ken Mozia (SAN), Chief Mike Ozekhome (SAN), Mahmood Magaji (SAN), Joe Abraham (SAN), Mr Chukwuma Umeh (SAN), Dr. Garba Tetengi (SAN) and Chief Emeka Etiaba (SAN).
Others are Chief Goddy Uche (SAN), Prof. Maxwell Gidado (SAN); the National Legal Adviser of the PDP, A. K. Ajibade (SAN), Mr. O. M. Atoyebi (SAN), Mrs. Nella Rabana (SAN), Paul Ogbole (SAN), Nuremi Jimoh (SAN), and Abdul Ibrahim (SAN).
Frontline contenders with Tinubu at the presidential poll which include the duo of Atiku Abubakar of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and Mr Peter Obi of the Labour Party (LP), who were defeated at the polls, have declared their resolve to explore legal mechanisms to challenge the outcome of the election in court, alleging electoral fraud.
Both PDP and LP had since rejected the outcome of the election and vowed to challenge it in court.
Recall INEC in early hours of last Wednesday had declared Tinubu, candidate of the APC, as the winner of the election and President-elect of the presidential poll held on February 25.
According to the results announced by INEC, Tinubu of the APC polled 8,794,726 to defeat Atiku of PDP with 6,884,520 votes, while Peter Obi of Labour Party and Sen Rabiu Kwakwanso of New Nigeria Peoples Party (NNPP) recorded 6,101,533 in third position and 1,496,687 votes (4th position) respectively.
The margin between Tinubu who polled 8,794,726 votes and Obi who polled 6,101,533 is over 2.6million votes.
Atiku, 76, who has now run for presidency race six times, polled 6,984,520 votes, ahead of Obi who polled 6,101,533.
Tinubu, Atiku, and Obi led in 12 States each, while Kwakwaso of NNPP led only in one State (Kano).
Recall during the collation process there had been protests against INEC, with demands that the Commission upload the results on the INEC Result Viewing Portal (IReV).
In a related development, agents of the PDP and other opposition parties had staged a walkout of the International Collation Centre in protest. Demostrations had trailed the development by demonstrators demanding INEC to electronically upload the results against manual collation adopted by the Commission.
Meanwhile, in his reaction, Atiku had last Thursday rejected the declaration of Tinubu as winner of the presidential polls, arguing that the level of “manipulation and fraud that attended this election was unprecedented in the history of our nation.”
Atiku last Thursday, in his first media briefing in Abuja, after the poll, described the process as flawed – “a rape of democracy” which he said “must be challenged.”
Under the Electoral Act 2022, any candidate dissatisfied with the return made by the INEC, shall within 21 days after the date of the declaration of the result of the election, file a petition before the tribunal.
An election tribunal shall deliver its judgement in writing within 180 days from the date the petition was filed.
Atiku rejecting the outcome of the election had while knocking INEC for what he described as conducting the “worst” election in Nigeria’s history, said the outcome would contested in Court.
The party said the filing of his petition would start immediately after inspection of the election materials.
…I remain committed, no going back on legal battle — Obi
Meanwhile, on his part, the Presidential candidate of LP, Obi said he remains committed to the mission of retrieving his mandate by contesting the outcome of the presidential poll declared by INEC.
Obi who stated this in a statement he issued via his verified Twitter handle on Wednesday, said,“I remain committed and will give more attention to our mission of retrieving our mandate. A new Nigeria is possible! -PO.
“It is also imperative that Obidients vote for candidates with Competence, Character, Capacity, and Compassion.
“I am supposed to commence our whistle-stop campaign for our various Labour Party Governorship and State Assembly Candidates today. Initially, my trip was to take me to Nasarawa, Lagos, Enugu, Abia, Delta, Edo, Rivers, Plateau, Borno, etc.
“However, following INEC’s refusal to allow our party to inspect the materials (including BVAS) from the 25th February presidential elections, I am personally heading to the Court today with our lawyers.
“As we pursue due process and defer to the rule of law, I urge all the OBIdients in the various states to continue campaigning for our candidates, namely, Gbadebo Rhodes Vivour in Lagos, Chijoke Edeoga in Enugu, Patrick Dakum in Plateau, Alex Otti in Abia, Ken Pela in Delta, Ibrahim Mshelia in Borno, to name just a few.”
INEC issues CoR to Reps-elect
Meanwhile, INEC on Wednesday issued Certificates of Return (CoR) to winners of the February 25, 2023 House of Representatives election in Nigeria.
The INEC Chairman, Mahmood Yakubu, presented the certificates to the members-elect at the National Collation Centre in Abuja.
Yakubu had on Saturday said winners were declared for 423 legislative seats, indicating that supplementary elections would be conducted in 46 other constituencies.
He said in the House of Representatives, 325 out of 360 seats have been won by eight political parties.
In terms of party representation, the INEC boss said African Democratic Party (ADP), won 2; All Progressives Congress (APC), 162; All Progressives Grand Alliance (APGA), 4; Labour Party (LP), 34; New Nigerian Peoples Party (NNPP), 18; Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), 102; Social Democratic Party (SDP), 2, and Young Progressives Party (YPP), 1.
Recall their Senate counterparts received their Certificate of Return on Tuesday.
In the list however, eight names are missing, as the Commission noted that supplementary elections will be held in affected Senatorial districts, which include Enugu East, Kebbi North, Plateau Central, Sokoto East, North and South, Yobe South and Zamfara Central.