The Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and its presidential candidate in the February 23 election, former vice president, Atiku Abubakar, have formally filed 66 grounds of appeal against the judgement of the Presidential Election Petition Tribunal at the Supreme Court.
Chief Mike Ozekhome, SAN, a senior lawyer in the legal team of Atiku and PDP, disclosed that the appeal was predicated on 66 grounds, which they believed Justices of the tribunal erred in their verdict on Atiku and PDP’s petition against the election of President Muhammadu Buhari.
The five-member panel led by Justice Mohammed Garba had in its judgement delivered on Sept. 11, dismissed the petition filed by Atiku and PDP for being incompetent and lacking in merit. The panel in dismissing the petition held that Atiku and PDP were unable to substantiate their allegations that the election was rigged in favour of Buhari and the APC.
They further held that the petitioners did not produce relevant witnesses to convince them that Buhari did not possess necessary educational qualification for the office of the President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria. Although Ozekhome did not list any of the 66 grounds on which the appeal was predicated.
The appeal is centred on issues bordering around the qualification of Buhari in the election and the controversial Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC’s) server amongst others. Among the grounds listed included claims that the judgement of the tribunal was not based on the issues canvassed by the petitioners, especially in relation to the respondent’s academic qualifications.
“Take, for instance, one of the respondent’s witnesses, rtd Maj.-Gen. Paul Tarfa, called by President Muhammadu Buhari’s lawyers said that they did not give their qualifications to the Military Board. Tarfa’s testimony is against the claim by Buhari that the Nigeria military is in possession of his certificates.
“Secondly, Buhari said that he was recruited into the military in 1961 and Tarfa said in 1962, so what is the correct date of his recruitment into the army. Somebody is not telling the truth. “The issue in question is who entered the different grades for him from both the Cambridge and the West African School Certificate results. This is the first time that the court will say that the documents are admitted in the interest of justice. So, who entered the different grades for him and if he did it, why?
“Another ground of appeal is that the President’s Chief of Staff, Abba Kyari, brought the Cambridge documents dated July 18 and testified on July 20. The point here is that it was not pleaded, when the respondent replied to the petition of Atiku and PDP. The position of the appellants is that in law, you don’t speak on documents not pleaded.”
The appellants are also claiming that the WAEC documents contradicted the Cambridge documents, describing it as a case of forgery and inconsistency in documents. “On the INEC server, the judgement of the PEPT said the INEC server was hacked and we then asked, which of the servers was hacked? “The tribunal judgement was based on the Electoral Act section 52 (1) (B), but this aspect of the law has since been deleted in 2015. It is no longer in existence. This was the case in Wike Vs Peterside.
”If the judgement said INEC server was recklessly hacked, then, there is a server and, therefore, a criminal offence. Yet, INEC did not claim so or that its documents were stolen. ”How come the judge reached this scandalous decision?” he said. The appellants are therefore praying the apex court to hold that the tribunal erred in its decision and consequently set the tribunal’s judgement aside and go ahead to grant all the reliefs sought.
Atiku and his party, PDP had dragged the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) before the tribunal for declaring Buhari as winner of the Feb. 23 presidential election. Mentioned as respondents are the electoral umpire, President Buhari and his party, the All Progressives Congress (APC). In the petition filed on March 18, the petitioners amongst other things alleged that INEC in connivance with agencies of the ruling government manipulated the outcome of the poll in favour of Buhari.
They further alleged that Buhari at the time of contesting the poll was not qualified having not possessed requisite academic qualification and as such all votes credited to him in the election be regarded as wasted votes