Human rights lawyer Inibehe Effiong has rubbished the response of Bola Ahmed Tinubu the President-elect to the petition filed at the Presidential Election Petition Court, PEPC, by Peter Obi, the presidential candidate of the Labour Party as a “non-starter.”
Tinubu had in his response on Monday midnight, asked the court to dismiss the suit on the ground that Mr 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 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 Apni 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.”
But in a series of tweets on Tuesday, Inibehe said the argument is belated, a pre-election matter and also not a Constitutional requirement.
“I am wondering what APC and Tinubu are hoping to achieve with their arguments on Obi’s belated membership of the LP. It’s not their business. Its a pre-election matter. It’s not a constitutional requirement.
“The Constitution says a candidate should be a member of a political party and be sponsored by that political party. It does not state the timeframe for joining the party. The Electoral Act requires parties to submit their membership register 30 days before primaries.
“The Act doesn’t bar admission of new members after submission of the register to the Commission.”
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.
Reacting, the human rights lawyer said Obi has no business joining Atiku because he was neither declared winner of the election nor returned elected as the president.
“That’s a non- starter. Obi and LP have no business joining Atiku in their petition. Atiku was neither declared winner nor returned elected.
“Obi is contending that he scored majority of lawful votes cast. There’s a difference between majority of votes and majority of lawful votes.