…No law requires me to tender my certificates, Buhari insists
…As tribunal reserves judgement
By Ikechukwu Nnochiri
The Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, has said the claims that results of the presidential election were transmitted to a server remained “the greatest lie of this century.” While adopting his final address at the tribunal, yesterday, Usman said the Electoral Act prohibited the transmission of results electronically.
Similarly, President Muhammadu Buhari in his final argument at the Presidential Election Petition Tribunal, yesterday, in Abuja, said no law in Nigeria stipulated that he must produce his certificate to prove his eligibility to content the February 23 election.
His argument came against the backdrop of the claim by Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, and its presidential candidate, Alhaji Atiku Abubakar, that the president was not qualified to contest the election because he didn’t possess the requisite certificate.
The Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, also in its final argument, said the claim that results of the February presidential election were transmitted to a server was “the greatest lie of this century.”
This is even as the Presidential Election Petition Tribunal reserved its judgement on the petition seeking to nullify the president’s re-election.
Adopting his final argument, Buhari maintained that the 1999 Constitution, as amended, only required him to be educated.
He urged the tribunal to dismiss the petition challenging his election and educational qualifications as grossly lacking in merit and substance.
Buhari’s lawyer, Chief Wole Olanipekun, SAN, submitted: “The law is well settled and the case-law is crystalised on the point that the 2nd respondent (Buhari) cannot go beyond provisions of sections 131 and 131(8) of the 1999 Constitution.
“The case-law is replete with decisions of this court on the subject. We cannot amend the constitution.
“We need to make it very clear at this point that the constitution and laws of the land do not expect any certificate to be tendered or attached.”
On its part, APC said it would be bad to create a public impression that President Buhari lacked basic educational qualifications.
“Those who set the standard for secondary education were called; they came and gave the verdict that what the 2nd respondent has was equivalent to Secondary School Certificate. The witness said so. And there was no follow-up on that. They did not say that the certificate was fake or forged.
“The position is that we take him to be a secondary school leaver,” Lateef Fagbemi, counsel to the party, submitted.
INEC’s claim of not having a place for storage of data, laughable—PDP
Nevertheless, the petitioners, through their lead counsel, Dr Livy Uzoukwu, SAN, urged the tribunal to hold that they successfully made out a case to warrant Buhari’s sack.
Uzoukwu said it was absurd for INEC to claim that it does not have an electronic storage device it kept data from the last presidential election.
Uzoukwu said: “Where was INEC storing the data from accreditation and verification? Again, where are they storing data from PVCs running into millions? That is the server.
“To, therefore, claim that INEC does not have a place for storage of data is laughable and tragic. This goes against the claim and trumpeted neutrality of INEC.”
He argued that though Buhari claimed that he had three certificates, he failed to tender any of them, adding that both his witness and the secretary of the military board denied that his set in the Army was asked to surrender their certificates for safekeeping.
He said: “He could go to Cambridge to collect a certificate but could not ask the military secretary to produce his WAEC certificate.
“As it stands, there is no original certificate, no Certified True Copy, no photocopy, no electronic version of it or even photographs of the certificate.
“And again, according to them, no server. Everything they don’t have. The 3rd respondent had no defence. The 1st respondent had no defence, no witnesses.
“I, therefore, must respectfully urge my lords to grant our reliefs because we have proved our case.”
Claims presidential poll results were transmitted to the server, century’s greatest lie — INEC
On his part, Yunus Usman, counsel to INEC, said the claim that results of the presidential election were transmitted to a server remained “the greatest lie of this century.”
While adopting his final address at the tribunal, yesterday, Usman said the Electoral Act prohibited the transmission of results electronically.
Explaining that the Act only provided for the manual transmission of results, INEC’s counsel said: “We humbly submit that INEC conducted the presidential election on February 23, 2019, in compliance with the Electoral Act and the petitioners can never disown that.
“The issues of transmitting results electronically or through server has been the greatest lie of this century because my lords, they say the results transmitted were only Atiku and Buhari, whereas about 70 political parties participated in the election.
“The Act itself prohibits the transmission of election results electronically. The Act and the manual only provide for manual transmission and collation of elections results and that is what they did and that is what their witness admitted under cross-examination.”
He also asked the tribunal, led by Mohammed Garba to dismiss the petition, which he said was meant to “test waters.”
Election tribunal reserves judgement
Meanwhile, the Presidential Election Petition Tribunal sitting in Abuja has reserved its judgement on the petition seeking to nullify President Buhari’s re-election.
A five-man panel of Justices of the Court of Appeal, which heard the petition PDP, and its candidate, Atiku Abubakar, lodged to challenge the outcome of the February 23 presidential election, adjourned for judgement after all the parties adopted their final briefs of argument.
The Justice Mohammed Garba-led panel said it would deliver the judgement on a date to be sent to all the parties through their lawyers.