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Court reserves judgement in Obi’s petition against Tinubu’s victory
Bola Tinubu (In Black & White) and Peter Obi (In Red). (Illustration by The Atlantic. Sources: Adekunle Ajayi/Getty; Temilade Adelaja/Reuters.)

Court reserves judgement in Obi’s petition against Tinubu’s victory


After the final showdown in the legal battle between Peter Obi and President Bola Tinubu over the 25 February presidential election, the Presidential Election Petition Court in Abuja on Tuesday reserved its judgement.

A five-member panel of the court headed by Haruna Tsammani said a date for judgement would be communicated to parties in the suit.


The verdict is expected to be delivered before the end of September.

Labour Party’s presidential candidate, Mr Obi, urged the court in his petition he filed at the court in May to nullify President Tinubu’s victory at the 25 February presidential election.

Mr Obi alleged, among other issues, that Nigeria’s electoral commission, INEC, failed to “substantially comply with the provisions of the Constitution and the Electoral Act” in its conduct of the polls.


At the resumed proceedings on Tuesday, INEC lawyer, Abubakar Mahmoud, urged the court to dismiss Mr Obi’s petition “for lacking in merit.”

Mr Mahmoud, a Senior Advocate of Nigeria (SAN), told the court that Mr Obi “misconstrued the introduction of technology in the conduct of the election.”

He said the Amazon Web Services (AWS) which hosts INEC IReV portal “remains the best in the world” in terms of providing services for cloud data storage.

The inability of the electoral commission to upload polling units results of the presidential election in real-time to INEC Results Viewing (IReV) portal was one of the major grounds of disputing the February election.


INEC attributed the challenge to a glitch on its portal on the day of election.

“The evidence before the court shows clearly that INEC went to great extent to ensure that the technology worked efficiently,” Mr Mahmoud told the court in his final argument on behalf INEC on Tuesday.

He said Mr Obi “has not presented any evidence to suggest that there was human interference on the IReV portal during the presidential election.”


He further argued that Mr “Obi has not shown that there was any electronic collation of results during the National Assembly election” held on the same day with the presidential poll.

On the issue of failure to upload results in real-time, Mr Mahmoud said the glitch “did not impact the outcome of the election.”

“There was no problem with the AWS cloud infrastructure. The problem was with the application of the deployment of the AWS.

“It has not been proven that the glitch was as a result of human interference.”

The lawyer said there was only manual collation of results during the polls.

Responding to Mr Obi’s contention over blurred 18,000 results sheets of the presidential election, the INEC lawyer clarified that the blurred electoral documents did not affect the collation of results.

“The argument about blurred results goes to no issue.”

He said all witnesses in the suit testified that the election was “impeccable.”

On the issue of scoring 25 per cent votes in Abuja, Mr Mahmoud said nullifying the election on that ground would confer a “superior” status on voters in Abuja over other parts of the country.

“The FCT is being ascribed a superior status than others in the country. I urge the court that this petition be dismissed,” Mr Mahmoud submitted.

Closing his arguments in the case, Mr Tinubu’s lead counsel, Wole Olanipekun, a SAN, said Mr Obi and the Labour Party abandoned their joint petition.

“The petitioners have abandoned their petition and they should say so in clear terms.”

Aligning with INEC, Mr Olanipekun said uploading of results to IReV was not part of the collation process, saying “collation is done physically where all resuits are entered in the appropriate INEC forms.”

Mr Olanipekun cited a recent judgement of the Court of Appeal in Lagos which gave INEC the discretion to choose whichever mode to collate election results.

He said the subsisting appellate court decision was given against the Labour Party in favour of INEC.

“Labour Party went forum-shopping in another court in Lagos and the Court of Appeal in Lagos settled the matter on 19 July 2023.

“Judgement was given against the Labour Party over INEC’s mode of transmission of results.”

On the issue of alleged criminal forfeiture of $460,000 in narcotics trafficking by President Tinubu in the U.S., Mr Olanipekun told the court that the U.S. embassy in Nigeria cleared Mr Tinubu of any crime or indictment.

Arguing on Mr Obi’s prayer for a rerun should the court decline to declare him President, Mr Olanipekun said the Labour Party flagbearer would not be allowed to participate in the process because he came third in the race.

The senior lawyer said the law only provides for Atiku Abubakar of the Peoples Democratic Party who came second in the contest to participate in a rerun should the court decide so.

“Assuming without conceding, even if there is going to be a rerun, Mr Obi,” the lawyer said, “will not be qualified to run.”

“May I urge my Lordships to dismiss this petition. It is an expedition,” Mr Olanipekun said.

On his part, APC’s lawyer, Lateef Fagbemi, a SAN, adopted the closing arguments of Messrs Mahmoud and Olanipekun in the suit.

Mr Fagbemi said Mr Obi failed to prove polling unit by polling unit INEC’s failure to transmit polling units results electronically.

“This is abysmally lacking in the suit,” arguing that Mr Obi ought to have proved non-compliance with the electoral law in all polling stations across the country.

“The issue of rerun is a two-horse race between the two leading contenders,” referring to Mr Tinubu and Atiku, urging the court to dismiss the petition.

‘Tinubu has laboured in vain’

Mr Obi’s lead lawyer, Livy Uzoukwu, told the court that Mr Tinubu laboured in vain to defend his case.

Contrary to Mr Olanipekun’s argument over the use of IReV during the election, Mr Uzoukwu referenced the Supreme Court decision on former Osun State Governor Adegboyega Oyetola, against Ademola Adeleke, saying the apex court held that “IREV is part of the electoral process.”

Mr Uzoukwu, a SAN, contended that “an election in which over 8000 blurred elections results were uploaded on IREv is a flawed election.”

“INEC issued certified true copies of polling units results to Mr Obi, out of that over 8000 were blurred and blank copies of A4 papers. How can they say they conducted an election so properly called?”

He further told the court that Mr Tinubu was declared winner of the election on the basis of a “flawed” process.

“It is not in doubt that the 2nd Respondent (Mr Tinubu) forfeited $460,000 being profits of narcotic trafficking in the U.S. They don’t want to hear that,” Mr Uzoukwu stated.

He said Mr Obi’s petition was not abandoned, as he insisted that his team had led credible evidence in aid of their client’s case.

“I submit that the petitioners have proved their petition and particularly the issue of non-compliance. Infact, the respondents provided no defence,” the senior lawyer said.

Mr Uzoukwu urged the court to grant Mr Obi’s prayers and dismiss the respondents’ defence.

After taking the arguments of lawyers to parties in the suit, the court reserved judgement.

It has been three months of intense legal battle.

The close of arguments on Tuesday marks the end of the hearing until judgement is delivered.

The court has until 16 September to hand down its verdict, going by statutory provision that election petitions must be heard and determined within 180 days from the day of filing.

Mr Obi had filed his petition on 20 March about three weeks after Mr Tinubu was declared winner of the poll.

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