By Kazeem Ugbodaga
The Presidential Election Petition Tribunal on Wednesday held that President Muhammadu Buhari was duly elected as the President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.
The Tribunal, in the lead judgment delivered by Justice Garba Mohammed dismissed the petitions filed by the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, and its candidate, Atiku Abubakar against the election of Buhari in their entirety as they lacked merit.
Justice Mohammed held that evidence given by the 62 witnesses called by the PDP and Atiku did not have any impact in helping the petitioners’ case, adding that the petitioners could not prove that Buhari was not duly elected.
He further added that Atiku and the PDP have no evidence of non-compliance to the electoral act by the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC.
Justice Mohammed also held that the only way to prove cases of over-voting, electoral manipulation, among others was to tender the voters’ register, which the petitioner could not provide and that all the witnesses called by the petitioners failed to establish cases of over-voting.
He said failure by the petitioners to prove their case against Buhari and the All Progressives Congress in all grounds has led to the dismissal of the petition filed in its entirely.
Earlier, the tribunal ruled that Buhari possessed the West African School Certificate Examination, WASCE, to contest the 2019 election.
The tribunal said Buhari was not only qualified, but eminently qualified to contest the election, saying that the petitioners, Atiku Abubakar and PDP, could not run away from the fact that Buhari obtained WASCE that qualified him for the election.
The court said apart from being qualified, the president also obtained other certificates to validate claims that he is eminently qualified for the presidential poll.
Mohammed, therefore struck out the claims by the PDP and Atiku that Buhari did not possess the needed qualification for the election and that he presented false information to INEC.
Mohammed added that the Electoral Act did not require certificate to be attached to form CF001, stating that for the fact that one attended school up to school certificate level was even enough to qualify one to contest an election.
He said evidence had shown that Buhari possessed WASCE and obtained credits in English Language, Geography, History and Hausa, plus a pass in English Literature.
He said it was evident that Buhari presented a certificate to the military from which the military extracted his results which he used in joining the military.
In his submission, he said Buhari’s CV contained impressive credentials to contest the election as he had more than a secondary school certificate.
“There is no doubt, he is not only qualified, but eminently qualified for the election,” he said.
In view of overwhelming evidence, the Tribunal chairman struck out PDP’s claims that Buhari did not possess certificate to contest the election and that he presented false information to INEC.
“Where the provision of the law is straight forward, the Court cannot give it an interpretation which it does not suggest,” the court said. “In my view, the provisions of the Electoral Act are clearly inapplicable to the issues in contention.”
The court said the law does not require that a person must attach his certificate before he can be qualified to contest an election.
The court said PDP’s contention is “misconceived as submission of the certificate is not a requirement for the election. The court said Buhari’s military certificate is higher than the school cert.
The Army, the tribunal chairman said, had dismissed the claims made by the petitioners regarding Buhari’s certificate and that the PDP failed to further prove its claims.
The court held that the evidence tendered by the PDP regarding Buhari’s qualifications were not to be relied upon since the PDP was not the original makers of the documents.
Also, the court dismissed claims by the PDP and Atiku that the results of the 2019 general election were transmitted to server belonging to the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC.
The tribunal described the purported existence of the server as a ruse, saying that Atiku’s argument was simply based on hearsay.
The Tribunal ruled that that the manual provided by INEC did not provide for electronic transmission of results, thus knocking off another ground of Atiku’s petition.
The court said the evidence relied upon by the PDP and Atiku failed to establish that the results were transmitted electronically through a server.
“I have carefully examined the evidence and there is nothing like electronic transmission,” Mohammed said, adding that the petitioners relied on anonymous website which did not exist.
He added that the Kenya ICT expert brought in by Atiku was not even certified as he admitted on cross examination.