Thursday, April 13, 2023

APC assembles 27 witnesses to discredit Atiku's petition at the Tribunal

The All Progressives Congress (APC) is lining up 27 witnesses to discredit a

petition filed by the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and its presidential candidate, Atiku Abubakar, who challenged the February 25, 2023, presidential election of Bola Tinubu. The APC has charged the Court of Appeal in Abuja to dismiss the PDP's petition, and its proposed witnesses, who are all members of the party, are expected to testify that the election that produced Tinubu as the President-elect was conducted in accordance with the provisions of the Electoral Act, 2022, and other laws. The APC contends that the declaration of its presidential candidate as the winner of the election is proper and valid.


The ruling party argues that there is no provision in the law that makes it mandatory for presiding officers to electronically transmit or transfer results from polling units to the collation system, nor is there any such requirement for the presiding officer to use the BVAS to upload a scanned copy of the Form EC8A to the INEC's Result Viewing Portal (iRev) in real-time. The APC claims that BVAS is not for electronic transmission but a transfer of documents and can only be utilized to forward documentation to the INEC's iRev but not in real-time as it is not so. It further states that the INEC Regulations did not specify real-time electronic transmission as claimed in the petition or any time lag whatsoever within which the transmission must be done.


The ruling party equally submits that the important document in the presidential election is the polling unit results-Form EC8A signed by the Presiding Officer and Party Agents, and it is the document used for the collation of results. Each party is expected to have their copy of this as soon as elections are concluded at the polling units.


The election process, as established by INEC's Regulation, is that on completion of all the polling unit voting and results procedures, the Presiding Officer shall transfer the result of the polling unit directly to the collation system as prescribed by the Commission, use the BVAS to upload a scanned copy of the EC8A (Form) to the INEC Result Viewing Portal (IReV), as prescribed by the Commission, and take the BVAS and the original copy of each of the Forms in a tamper-evident envelope to the Registration Area/Ward Collation Officer, in the company of Security Agents. The Polling Agents may accompany the Presiding Officer to the RA/Ward Collation Centre. There is no mention of real-time transfer of documents in the regulations.


The APC argues that the election validly took place in the polling units where results were declared after sorting of ballots, counting of votes, and recording of the same in the prescribed forms which were signed by the presiding officers and party agents, including that of the Petitioners and copies issued as prescribed by the Electoral Act, 2022.


In its notice of preliminary objection filed by its lead counsel, Prince Lateef Fagbemi, SAN, marked CA PEPC/A/05/2023, APC urged the tribunal to dismiss the petition for lacking merit. The ruling party argues that the tribunal has no jurisdiction to adjudicate on the petitioners' allegation predicated on ground (D) in paragraph 16 of the petition and the related paragraph 146, which lacks necessary facts or particulars as required by paragraph 4 (1)(d) of the rules of procedure for election petitions (1st Schedule to the Electoral Act 2022).


The APC claims that the INEC utilized the technological device (BVAS) deployed for the electronic transmission of the polling units' results of the election, as far as practicable, to complement the manual transfer of the primary election results in




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