INEC tells tribunal Atiku did not beat Buhari in presidential election

INEC said Atiku has failed to prove that the election was rigged in Buhari's favour.

INEC chairman, Prof. Mahmood Yakubu [Guardian]

The electoral commission had declared President Muhammadu Buhari the winner of the February 23 election with 15,191,847 votes, an astonishing victory margin of 3,928,869 votes over Atiku, his closest challenger, who ended the polls with 11,262,978 votes.

Atiku and his Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) filed a petition before the Justice Mohammed Garba-led five-member tribunal in March, with Buhari, his All Progressives Congress (APC), and INEC listed as respondents.

In his petition, Atiku argued that the election was marred by irregularities in several states designed to hand the victory to the 76-year-old president.

When Buhari closed defence of his case before the tribunal on August 1, he had called only seven people to testify. Atiku and the PDP, on the other hand, called 62 people to testify in their favour. INEC failed to call anyone to testify on its behalf.

In the petitioners' final address, as reported last week, Atiku said he was robbed of victory through wrongful computation of results in 11 states namely Bauchi, Borno, Gombe, Jigawa, Kaduna, Kano, Katsina, Kebbi, Niger, Yobe, and Zamfara.

He said contrary to INEC's official results, he actually scored a total of 9,426,082 votes while Buhari scored 9,203,750.

He said, "It is submitted that when the votes credited to the parties on account of various errors listed in paragraph 4.54(a) – (f) and (a) – (d), respectively, above are deducted from the results declared in the 11 focal states, the under listed figures now represent the overall lawful votes cast in the presidential election held on February 23, 2019 across Nigeria:

"Election result: PDP - 11,262,978; APC - 15,191,847.

"Void votes: PDP - 1,836,896; APC - 5,988,097. 

"New result: PDP - 9,426,082; APC - 9,203,750."

However, in its own final address filed by its lead counsel, Yunus Ustaz Usman (SAN), INEC said Atiku failed to establish that the election results were tampered with in favour of the eventual winner.

"Furthermore, by virtue of section 150(1) of the Evidence Act, the results declared by the 1st Respondent enjoy a presumption of regularity. 

"Accordingly, the petitioners herein are duty bound to rebut this presumption with credible evidence," INEC said in the address as reported by Daily Trust.

When he initially filed his petition in March, Atiku claimed that he actually won the election with 1.6 million more votes than Buhari according to an internal compilation of results he claimed was obtained from INEC's server.

He claimed he scored 18,356,732 votes while Buhari scored 16,741,430 votes. 

INEC has vehemently denied the existence of the server result, noting that electronic transmission of results is unknown to the Electoral Act 2010 (as amended). The commission accused Atiku and the PDP of producing fake election results.

The petitioners also argued before the tribunal that Buhari was not qualified to contest the election, accusing him of presenting fake credentials to INEC.

"The case is that the 2nd respondent (Buhari) did not possess the certificates relating to the qualifications, which he claimed in his Form CF001," the petitioners said.

The final addresses of all parties will be adopted on Wednesday, August 21.

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