The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) has argued that Peter Obi, the Labour Party’s presidential candidate, failed to provide evidence showing that he obtained the majority of lawful votes during the 25 February presidential election. Obi, who came third in the election, filed a petition at the Presidential Election Petition Court in Abuja, challenging the outcome based on allegations of electoral fraud and other irregularities.
Obi requested the court to nullify President Bola Tinubu’s victory and either declare him the winner or order a fresh election. He and his party alleged that Tinubu and Vice President Kashim Shettima were not qualified to run for Nigeria’s presidency. They accused Tinubu of past drug-related crimes and Shettima of double nomination by their party, the All Progressives Congress (APC).
In its final written address, INEC’s lead lawyer, Abubakar Mahmoud, argued that Obi’s petition lacked merit. He clarified that Shettima’s withdrawal from the Borno Central Senatorial District candidacy in the APC preceded his nomination as Tinubu’s running mate. Mahmoud also refuted the allegations of Tinubu’s drug trafficking conviction, stating that there was no evidence of criminal charges, conviction, or forfeiture.
Regarding the failure to upload polling unit results in real-time on the INEC Result View Portal, Mahmoud attributed it to a technical glitch on the e-transmission application hosted by Amazon Web Services, which was eventually resolved. He emphasized that the evidence presented by INEC’s sole witness, Lawrence Bayode, supported this claim and was uncontroverted.
On the issue of Tinubu’s failure to score 25 percent of lawful votes in the Federal Capital Territory (FCT), INEC argued that it was a matter of interpreting relevant constitutional provisions rather than a question of lawful or unlawful votes.
In conclusion, Mahmoud stated that Obi failed to present credible evidence to support his case, and there was no mandatory obligation for INEC to electronically transmit or fully upload election results before collation. He maintained that Tinubu qualified to contest the election based on constitutional requirements. Therefore, INEC urged the court to dismiss the petition.