After 10 days of a legal tussle between the petitioner, Atiku Abubakar of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) joined by his running mate, Peter Obi on the one hand, and President Muhammadu Buhari of the All Progressives Congress (APC) and the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) on the other hand, the Presidential Election Tribunal is inching towards giving its verdict on the winner of the February 23, 2019 election. LEON USIGBE reviews the evidence presented before the Justices, on which the parties in the conflict anchored their arguments.
President Muhammadu Buhari, his governing All Progressives Congress (APC), former Vice President Atiku Abubakar, alongside his running mate in the 2019 presidential election, Peter Obi, and the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), are now waiting with bated breath for the outcome of the petition filed by the presidential candidate of the main opposition party against the declaration of President Buhari as the winner of the February 23, 2019 election. Atiku believed he won the election and has accused the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) of stealing his mandate and handing it to the incumbent. Consequently, he took his petition to retrieve the mandate to the Presidential Election Petition Tribunal hoping that justice will be served in his favour. The five-person tribunal, headed by Justice Garba Mohammed, has for weeks, presided over legal fireworks as the petitioner and the defence lawyers faced off in a titanic legal battle
Dr. Livi Uzoukwu (SAN) heads the legal team of the PDP candidate, while Chief Wole Olanipekun (SAN) leads the array of legal minds attempting to deflect missiles thrown at the 2nd Respondent’s (Buhari) victory at the poll. The tribunal has now fixed August 21 for final arguments from the petitioner and the defence counsels and possibly announce the date for the delivery of judgment.
Atiku, through his legal team, presented evidence and 62 witnesses before resting his case on July 19, while INEC, which is the first respondent in the case, closed its case through its lead counsel, Yunus Usman (SAN), without calling a single witness. Buhari’s lead counsel called seven witnesses, including the Chief of Staff to the President, Abba Kyari; Buhari’s friend and mate, Major General Paul Tarfa (retd), and Suleiman Isa Maidua, also Buhari’s secondary school classmate.
The petitioner’s witnesses included one expert, Mr. David Nyangor Njogu from Kenya, who demonstrated how the INEC allegedly transmitted the results of the election to its central server, claiming that Atiku won the election going by the actual votes cast at the election. Nyangor, a computer analyst, had been subpoenaed to testify before the tribunal on the real situation of the controversial INEC server. He also revealed that he got his information from a whistle-blower website, www.factsdontlieng.com, which was allegedly created and managed by technical staff of INEC. According to the computer analyst, the website has all the contents of the INEC server and from available information, the petitioner beat the second respondent by a margin of more than 1.8 million votes. Nyangor also gave the tribunal the Internet Protocol (IP) address of the alleged INEC server and other backend login details.