The All Progressives Congress (APC) and the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) on Monday submitted that the petition filed by the Labour Party (LP) presidential candidate, Peter Obi before the Election Tribunal lacks merit.
APC and the commission charged the election tribunal to dismiss Obi’s petition, adding that it is a waste of time.
LP and Obi are challenging the victory of President-elect, Bola Tinubu in the February 25, 2023, presidential election.
They are challenging Tinubu’s victory on grounds of alleged non-qualification and non-compliance, among others.
APC and INEC in their separate responses filed before the Presidential Election Petition Court (PEPC) on Monday urged the court to dismiss the petition for being unmeritorious.
APC, in its response filed at the PEPC secretariat in Abuja by Thomas Ojo, a member of the party’s legal team, led by Lateef Fagbemi (SAN), faulted the petition on many grounds.
Among APC’s grounds for challenging the competence of the petition are that Obi was not a valid member of the LP at the time of the election and the exclusion of Atiku Abubakar and his party as a party to the petition, among others.
On Obi’s claim to being a member of the LP, the APC argued that he was a member of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) until May 24, 2022, when he was screened as the party’s presidential aspirant in April 2023.
The APC stated that Obi participated in PDP’s screening exercise and was cleared to contest the presidential election as an aspirant.
It added: “The 1st petitioner (Obi) purportedly resigned his membership of Peoples Democratic Party on 24th May 2022 to purportedly join the 2nd petitioner (LP) on 27th May 2022.
“The 2nd petitioner conducted its presidential primary on 30th May 2022, which purportedly produced the 1st petitioner as its candidate, which time contravened Section 77(3) of the Electoral Act for him to contest the primary election as a member of the 2nd petitioner.
“The 1st petitioner was not a member of the 2nd petitioner as at the time of his alleged sponsorship.
“Whereas, by the mandatory provisions of Section 77 (1) (2) and (3) of the Electoral Act 2022, a political party shall maintain a register and shall make such register available to the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) not later than 30 days before the date fixed for the party primaries, congresses and convention.
“All the presidential candidates of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) were screened on 29th April 2022, an exercise in which the 1st petitioner herein participated and was cleared to contest while being a member of the party.
“The 1at petitioner herein resigned his membership of the PDP on Thursday 26th May 2022 and joined the Labour Party the following day being 27th May 2022.
“The 2nd petitioner herein conducted its presidential primary on 30th May 2022, which produced the 1st petitioner as the candidate it intended to sponsor in the general election.
“By Section 77(3) of the Electoral Act, 2022, the 2nd petitioner is mandated to have submitted its comprehensive register of members to the 1st respondent (INEC) 30 days before its presidential primary, that is to say, the said register of members must have been submitted to the 1st respondent on or before 30th April 2022
“The 1st petitioner, as of 30th April 2022 was still a member of the PDP and his name was not and could not have been in the register of members submitted by the 2nd petitioner to the 1t respondent.”
The APC on the non-inclusion of Atiku wondered why Obi and its party excluded the PDP and its candidate from their petition, having admitted that the PDP candidate came second in the election.
It added that it would amount to a breach of Atiku’s right to a fair hearing should the court grant Obi’s relief to declare him the winner and void Atiku’s votes without hearing him.
INEC argued that, as against the claim by Obi and his party, it conducted the election in full compliance with relevant laws and challenges the petitioners to prove the contrary.