Understanding the Peter Obi petition on Elections 2023
Peter Obi, candidate of Labour Party, files a petition against INEC’s declaration of Bola Ahmed Tinubu as President-elect of Nigeria.
The petition is against Mr. Bola Tinubu, his vice presidential candidate, and the INEC, the electoral body. In it, lawyers to Mr. Peter Obi and the Labour Party focused on six major electoral infractions that they hope the court will examine to overturn Tinubu’s declaration as president.
Their issues are:
- That the nomination of Kashim Shettima as vice presidential candidate was defective as he did not withdraw from his nomination as a senatorial candidate of his party before accepting to serve as vice presidential candidate of Mr. Tinubu.
- That Tinubu is not qualified to contest election for the office of President because of issues surrounding drug trafficking charges for which he forfeited $460,000 to the American authorities.
- Tinubu did not satisfy the legal and constitutional requirements to be declared president because he did not win the required number of votes. In particular, he did not win the mandatory quarter of the votes cast in the FCT.
- INEC did not comply with extant laws as well as the regulations it issued to manage the election. In particular, the non-use of electronic devices and failure to upload results as mandated by law challenges the integrity of the votes cast and renders the result invalid.
- Votes were arbitrarily allocated to candidates, with Obi allegedly suffering deductions in Bayelsa, Rivers, Benue and eight other states. These deductions made him lose votes he cast for him during the elections.
- That if the legitimate votes he got were added to his totals, he would have won the election.
Obi’s lawyers argued that the APC vice presidential candidate was not qualified to contest because he concurrently held two nominations. Shettima accepted his nomination to serve as vice president on 14 July while simulhe was still validly nominated as APC Senatorial candidate of for Borno Central Senatorial District.
The law frowns at a candidate who “knowingly allows himself to be nominated in more than one constituency.”
In the case of Tinubu, the lawyers argued in court papers that he is disqualified from standing for election because of a drug-related case he had in the United States. Tinubu was convicted and fined $460,00 “for an offence involving dishonesty, namely narcotics trafficking.”
Obi Files Petition Against Tinubu
The petition dwelt extensively on INEC’s non-compliance with the Electoral Act, the constitution, and the regulations it published. In particular, the petition took issues with the deployment of technological devices as specified by law and as attested to by INEC top level managers.
It then zeroed in on the results of the elections as recorded by INEC in 10 states. Data from Rivers and Benue States elections were proposed as samples of how votes were arbitrarily allocated to the APC by INEC.
- In Rivers State, the petitioner said INEC announced scores of 175,071 votes for Labour and 231,591 for APC while the actual votes for Labour was 205,110 with APC at 84,108 votes.
- In Benue State, INEC announced 308,372 votes for Labour and 310,468 for APC but Obi said the scores calculated by his party agents were 329,003 for Labour and 300,421 for APC.
Obi submitted that if INEC credited scores that he legitimately obtained from 11 states and deducted those allegedly added to his opponent, this will show that he won the election of 25 February.
The affected states, according to the petition, include Rivers, Lagos, Taraba, Benue, Adamawa, Imo, Bauchi, Borno, Kaduna, and Plateau.
Obi said he will also prove that the margin between Tinubu and himself is far less than the number of voters who were prevented from casting their ballots nationwide. This difference makes it unlawful to use the results obtained to determine a winner.
He then brought in the issue of interpretation of the constitution as regards the role of FCT in determining who is qualified to be announced as winner. The Constitution stipulates that the winner must record the majority of votes cast, in addition to recording a quarter of the votes in at least two-third of the states of the federation and the Federal Capital Territory.
Obi argued that Tinubu did not satisfy the requirements for election because he did not win the required percentage of the votes in the FCT.
“In this Petition, the 2nd respondent (Tinubu) besides not scoring the majority of the lawful votes cast at the election, did not obtain at least one-quarter of the votes cast in the FCT.”
He concluded by asking for the following reliefs, namely:
- Tinubu and his running mate were not legally qualified to contest the election and therefore the votes recorded for them should be declared as wasted votes,
- Because he failed to score one-quarter of the votes in the FCT, Tinubu was not entitled to be declared the winner of the election.
A second alternative plea, according to the petition, are as follows:
- The Tribunal cancels the election and orders INEC to organize another at which Bola Tinubu, his vice and the APC shall not participate, and
- That the court determine that Tinubu was not declared president by majority of lawful votes, and to determine his declaration as winner “unlawful, unconstitutional and of no effect whatsoever,” and
- That the court declares that Obi scored the highest number of votes and ought therefore to be declared as the winner.
In a third alternative plea, Obi asked the Tribunal to
- Declare that the election itself is void because it was not conduced in accordance with the law and therefore, and
- Make an order cancelling the presidential election and mandating INEC to conduct a fresh election for the office of President.
No date has been fixed for hearing.
Obi files petition against Tinubu