The Presidential Election Petition Tribunal sitting in Abuja has ruled that President Muhammadu Buhari was eminently qualified to contest the 2019 presidential election.

The tribunal is currently ruling on the outcome of the February 23, 2019 election.

Alhaji Atiku Abubakar of the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) is challenging the results of the election and a subsequent declaration by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) that Muhammadu Buhari of the All Progressives Congress (APC), won the election with 15,191,847 of the votes cast.

Most of Atiku's prayers have not been granted by the tribunal (AFP)

Atiku polled second with 11,262,978 votes, according to the electoral umpire.

The PDP candidate had declared the election a sham and travesty soon after, however.

The ruling from the tribunal

Atiku had cited irregularities during the vote, rigging, disparity of the final vote tally from those in the "INEC server" and the non-qualification of Buhari to run for the election ab initio, as reasons why he should have been declared winner instead.  

However, the tribunal has ruled that Buhari’s certificate from the Nigerian military is higher than the Secondary School certificate stated as a minimum academic requirement for the election by the constitution.

“Mr Buhari is not only qualified, he is eminently qualified to contest the election”, the chairman of the tribunal or presiding Judge, Mohammed Garba, read from the lead judgment notes.

The tribunal also ruled that the petitioner had failed to sufficiently prove otherwise.

The tribunal also held that the discrepancy in Buhari’s name on school certificates as tendered by Atiku, is irrelevant in the determination of the case. 

Buhari and Atiku were the front-runners in the 2019 election (Reuters)
AFP

“Whether it’s Muhammadu with a ‘U’ or Mohammed Buhari with an ‘O’, there all refer to and identify the second respondent”, declared the tribunal.

The court held that the evidence tendered regarding Buhari’s qualifications were not to be relied upon, since the PDP did not issue or make the certificate.

"A candidate is not required under the Electoral Act to attach his certificate to his form CF001 before a candidate is adjudged to have the requisite qualification to contest the election", the lead judge read.

Atiku's prayers

Livy Uzoukwu, lead counsel for Atiku and PDP, had among others, contended that President Buhari was not qualified to have contested the election and that he supplied false information to the electoral umpire.

The tribunal is also ruling that Atiku's prayers based off results from an 'INEC server' is not enough grounds to nullify the vote and amounts to a "drop in the ocean".

The tribunal rules that the manual provided by INEC made no room for electronic transmission of results; and that the smart card reader cannot take the place of the voters' register until amendments are made to the Electoral Act to that effect.

President Muhammadu Buhari woos investors at TICAD7, says Nigeria offers attractive investment opportunities [Twitter/@DeeOneAyekooto]

Earlier, the tribunal dismissed Buhari's allegation that Atiku was not qualified to contest in the election because he's a Cameroonian by birth. The tribunal said he should have filed the allegation in a cross-petition, and not in a reply to Atiku's original petition like he did.

The tribunal also dismissed INEC's motion that Atiku's petition be dismissed because the petitioner failed to join Vice President Yemi Osinbajo in the suit.

Final judgment on Atiku’s petition will be delivered today and Pulse is monitoring the procedure from the courtroom.

The ruling commenced at 9am of Wednesday, September 11, 2019 and was still ongoing at 3:40pm when this report was filed.