The legal teams representing the presidential candidates of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and the Labour Party (LP) in the February 25, 2023 presidential election, Atiku Abubakar and Peter Obi, have officially confirmed the receipt of Certified True Copies (CTCs) of the judgment rendered by the Presidential Election Petition Court (PEPC).
In a marathon 12-hour session, the PEPC had, on Wednesday, upheld the victory of President Bola Tinubu in the presidential election. However, Atiku and Obi expressed their dissatisfaction with the court’s decision and vowed to take their case to the Supreme Court.
Dr. Livy Uzoukwu (SAN), the lead counsel for Peter Obi, confirmed over the phone that he had received a copy of the judgment, stating, “I have a copy of the judgment; they are scanning it at the moment.”
Likewise, Chris Uche (SAN), Atiku’s lead counsel, corroborated the news, confirming the receipt of the CTCs with a brief text message response, saying, “Yes; we have just received it.”
Earlier on Friday, Atiku’s Special Assistant on Public Communications, Phrank Shaibu, had criticized the PEPC for allegedly withholding the CTCs of the judgment from Atiku’s legal team, accusing the court of impeding the pursuit of justice.
A copy of the judgment circulated on social media platforms on Friday, containing a substantial 798 pages, signed by the Secretary of the PEPC and dated September 8, 2023.
In a separate development, the Lamidi Apapa faction of the LP made allegations against the National Chairman, Julius Abure, and Peter Obi, claiming that they failed to provide the results of polling units during the tribunal proceedings due to non-payment of party agents.
The faction’s spokesperson, Abayomi Arabambi, asserted that a significant number of party agents absconded with the result sheets of the polling units after the promised stipend of N10,000 was not paid to them. Arabambi dismissed Obi’s plan to appeal the tribunal’s judgment, labeling it a futile and wasteful endeavor.
He said, “Ab initio, no (polling) agent was paid and I remember telling Nigerians it is something that may affect us after the election. None of my agents was paid. Out of the over 190,000 polling units, we only presented to INEC that we have agents in over 130,000. The remaining was not uploaded. Even in the 130,000 we had, no agent submitted his polling unit result to Peter Obi. We owed them N10,000 each.
“These people are not going to tell the world this truth. That was why the judges asked if we expected them to go and gather evidence for us from the market. You went to court without Form EC8 and those lawyers were unable to tabulate the total number of votes that Obi claimed he garnered. Those respected judges were so thorough and nobody should abuse them. They were only asking questions in line with the relevant Electoral Act and Constitution of Nigeria.
“If you were claiming you have the majority of votes counted, what did you score? They couldn’t tabulate or present it in line with the extant law of the land. That was what provoked the judges to even demand Obi’s actual score. Had it been they had the polling unit results, they could have gone ahead with the presentation to prove that LP had certain votes in some states. In this case, we know INEC cannot alter your Form EC8 except theirs. But had it been we paid all our agents, we wouldn’t have this problem.”
He added, “We have accepted Wednesday’s verdict at the tribunal and we are going back to the drawing board. Obi’s insistence on going to the Supreme Court despite the avalanche of exposition LP was subjected to at the Court of Appeal is quite unfortunate. He deserves our pity though.
“I believe that going to the Supreme Court is just a sheer waste of time. The apex court is not a court of first instance in the presidential election. The Appeal Court is and his lawyers need to tell him. If they fail to tell him, I am reminding Obi now that no fresh documents will be allowed in the Supreme Court. It is what you have that they are going to debate. No new thing can be introduced.”
Arabambi warned that any endeavor by Peter Obi’s legal team to raise the issue of Vice President Kashim Shettima’s double nominations would be fruitless, as the matter has already been conclusively resolved by the highest court.
Attempts to obtain a response from Abure, the LP national chairman, proved unsuccessful.
However, Kehinde Edun, the National Legal Adviser of the LP, rebuked Arabambi, asserting that his account did not accurately portray the events that transpired.
Edun said, “That (not paying agents) is a lie. What was required to prove our case was the one in INEC’s custody. For it to be admissible, it must come from the proper channel. So it is not true. The court also knew where these things were. We are only deceiving ourselves.
“We applied for INEC to produce them and the court gave an order. But INEC refused to bring them. It was as if INEC was at war with us. Everybody was under pressure including the court and INEC. The law is that you have to prove your case and the court is only concerned with what is before it.
“Nobody pays attention to the Apapa group. They are a group of suspended former members who are now doing the bidding of their paymasters. So it is expected they will be happy with the verdict of the tribunal. As far as we are concerned, they are not members or a faction of the Labour Party. They are an extension of the ruling party who they are working for. They are rejoicing with their paymaster.”
Obi’s media aide, Tai Obasi, said, “You know what the Apapa faction is all about. It is part of the old order we are fighting to change and struggling to ensure Nigeria becomes a new Nigeria. You can see those who don’t want things to be done right. Apapa and his group are the comedy aspect of the party.
“The fact is that you cannot stop halfway when you want to do something right. You have to see it to the end. The judgment at the tribunal was not right. That’s why we are heading to the Supreme Court.”