The All Progressives Congress (APC), on Monday, asked the Presidential Election Petition Court (PEPC) in Abuja to dismiss the petition filed by the Labour Party (LP) and its presidential candidate, Peter Obi, against the emergence of Bola Tinubu as the president-elect in the 25 February election stating that he is incompetent and lacks focus.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that Mr Obi, the 1st petitioner, and LP, the 2nd petitioner, had sued the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), Mr Tinubu, Kashim Shettima and APC as 1st to 4th respondents respectively. Stating that INEC and the APC manipulated the election results in favour of Tinubu. They are equally contending against Tinubu’s failure to secure 25 per cent of lawful votes cast in the Federal Capital Territory (FCT).
In a defence filed in response to Obi’s petition, Thomas Ojo a member of the APC Legal team, being led by Lateef Fagbemi, a Senior Advocate of Nigeria (SAN), submitted that Obi was not validly sponsored by the Labour Party as prescribed by the mandatory provision of the Electoral Act and therefore could not rightly and lawfully commence or sustain his petition, seeking to void its victory at the presidential polls.
Other grounds are that the 1st Petitioner (Obi) was screened as a presidential aspirant of the Peoples Democratic Party in April 2022;
“1st Petitioner participated and was cleared to contest the presidential election while being a member of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP);
“1st Petitioner purportedly resigned his membership of Peoples Democratic Party on 24th May 2022 to join the 2nd Petitioner (Labour Party) on 27th May 2022.
“2nd Petitioner (Labour Party) conducted its presidential primary on 30th May 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 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 (thirty) 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 (Obi) herein participated and was cleared to contest while being a member of the Party.
“The 1st Petitioner herein resigned his membership of the PDP on Thursday 26th May 2022 and joined the Labour Party the following day 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 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 1st Respondent INEC.
In another basis for challenging the petition, APC queried why Obi and his party excluded the PDP and its presidential flagbearer, Atiku, from the suit.
Consequently, APC prayed the tribunal to dismiss the petition for lacking of substance and merit.