The ruling All Progressives Congress (APC), on Monday, April 10, told the Presidential Election Petition Court in Abuja that Peter Obi is not qualified to be the Labour Party (LP) presidential candidate in the February 25, 2023 election.
As such, the APC urged the tribunal to dismiss the petition filed by the Labour Party (LP) and Peter Obi, against the emergence of Bola Tinubu as President-elect.
The APC, the 4th respondent, prayed the court to dismiss the suit on the ground that Obi, the 1st petitioner, lacked requisite locus standi to institute the petition because he was not a member of LP at least 30 days to the party’s presidential primary to be validly sponsored by the party.
It urged the tribunal to reject the petition in its notice of preliminary objection marked: CA/PEPC/03/2023 and filed at PEPC’s Secretariat on Monday night by Thomas Ojo, a member of the party’s legal team led by Lateef Fagbemi (SAN), in Abuja.
Obi, the 1st petitioner, and LP, the 2nd petitioner, had sued the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), Tinubu, Vice President-elect, Sen. Kashim Shettima, and APC as 1st to 4th respondents, respectively.
The petitioners are seeking the nullification of the election victory of Tinubu and Shettima in the February 25 presidential poll.
Responding, APC said: “The 1st petitioner (Obi) was a member of PDP until May 24, 2022.
“1st petitioner was screened as a presidential aspirant of the PDP in April 2022.
“1st petitioner participated and was cleared to contest the presidential election while being a member of the PDP.
“1st petitioner purportedly resigned his membership of PDP on May 24, 2022 to purportedly join the 2nd petitioner (Labour Party) on May 27, 2022.
“2nd petitioner conducted its presidential primary on May 30, 2022 which purportedly produced 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 party argued that Obi was not a member of LP as of the time of his alleged sponsorship.
The APC argued that “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 INEC not later than 30 days before the date fixed for the party primaries, congresses and convention.”
It further stated that all the PDP’s presidential candidates were screened on April 29, 2022, an exercise which Obi participated and cleared to contest while being a member of the party.
It argued that the petition was incompetent since Obi’s name could not have been in LP’s register made available to INEC as at the time he joined the party.
The APC equally argued that the petition was improperly constituted having failed to join Atiku Abubakar and PDP who were necessary parties to be affected by the reliefs sought.
“By Paragraph 17 of the petition, the petitioners, on their own, stated that Alhaji Atiku Abubakar came second in the presidential election with 6,984,520 votes as against the petitioners who came third with 6,101,533 votes;
“At Paragraph 102 (ii) of the petition, the petitioners urged the tribunal to determine that 1st petitioner scored the majority of lawful votes without joining Alhaji Atiku Abubakar in the petition.
“For the tribunal to grant prayer (iii) of the petitioners, the tribunal must have set aside the scores and election of Alhaji Atiku Abubakar.
“Alhaji Atiku Abubakar must be heard before his votes can be discountenanced by the tribunal,” it said.
The party said the petition and the identified paragraphs were in breach of the mandatory provisions of Paragraph 4(1)(D) of the 1st Schedule to the Electoral Act, 2022.
According to APC, Paragraphs 60 — 77 of the petition are non-specific, vague and/or nebulous and thereby incompetent contrary Paragraph 4(1)(d) of the Ist Schedule to the Electoral Act, 2022;
It said the allegations of non-compliance must be made distinctly and proved on polling unit basis but none was specified or provided in any of the paragraphs of the petition.
The party, therefore, argued that the tribunal lacked the requisite jurisdiction to entertain pre-election complaints embedded in the petition as presently constituted, among other arguments
The APC urged the tribunal to dismiss the petition with substantial cost as same was devoid of any merit and founded on frivolity.