The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) has appointed no less than nine Senior Advocates of Nigeria to defend its conduct of the 2023 presidential election, CITY LAWYER can authoritatively report.

The team is to be led by former Nigerian Bar Association (NBA) President, Mr. Abubakar Balarabe Mahmoud (SAN). Other members of the team are Stephen Adehi (SAN), Oluwakemi Pinheiro (SAN), Miannaya Essien (SAN) and Abdullahi Aliyu (SAN).

CITY LAWYER gathered from a member of the legal team that four Senior Advocates of Nigeria who are staff of INEC’s Legal Department are also members of the legal team alongside Messrs Garba Hassan and Musa Attah and Ms. Patricia Obi.

It is recalled that INEC had on March 1, 2023 declared Senator Bola Ahmed Tinubu, the presidential candidate of the All Progressives Congress (APC), as the winner of the February 25, 2023 presidential election.

INEC declared that Tinubu polled a total of 8,794,726 votes and also scored over 25 per cent of the votes cast in 30 states while Alhaji Atiku Abubakar of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) polled 6,984,520 votes to place second. According to INEC, the candidate of the Labour Party (LP), Mr. Peter Obi came third in the election with a total of 6,101,533 votes while Rabiu Kwankwaso of the NNPP came fourth with 1,496,687 votes.

However, Atiku and Obi have challenged INEC’s declaration of Tinubu as the winner of the presidential election, filing petitions at the Presidential Elections Tribunal.

The election was criticized by many observers as having been fraught with some irregularities.

Obi in his petition claimed that Tinubu “was not duly elected by the majority of the lawful votes cast at the time of the election.”

The former Governor of Anambra State further stated there was rigging in 11 states, adding that he would demonstrate this in the declaration of results based on the uploaded results.

The petition reads: “The petitioners shall show that in the computation and declaration of the result of the election, based on the updated results, the votes recorded for the second respondent (Tinubu) did not comply with the legitimate process for the computation of the result and disfavoured the petitioners in the following states: Rivers, Lagos, Taraba, Benue, Adamawa, Imo, Bauchi, Borno, Kaduna, Plateau and other states of the federation.”

Obi and LP said INEC violated its own regulations when it announced the result despite the fact that at the time of the announcement, the totality of the polling unit results had yet to be fully scanned, uploaded and transmitted electronically as required by the Electoral Act.

Among other prayers, the petitioners urged the tribunal to “determine that, at the time of the presidential election held on February 25, 2023, the second and third respondents (Tinubu and Shettima) were not qualified to contest the election.

“That it be determined that all the votes recorded for the second respondent in the election are wasted votes, owing to the non-qualification of the second and third respondents.

“That it is determined that on the basis of the remaining votes (after discountenancing the votes credited to the second respondent) the first petitioner (Obi) scored a majority of the lawful votes cast at the election and had not less than 25 per cent of the votes cast in each of at least two-thirds of the states of the federation and the Federal Capital Territory, Abuja and satisfied the constitutional requirements to be declared the winner of the February 25, 2023, presidential election.

“That it be determined that the second respondent (Tinubu), having failed to score one-quarter of the votes cast at the presidential election in the Federal Capital Territory, Abuja, was not entitled to be declared and returned as the winner of the presidential election held on February 25, 2023.”

The petitioners are also asking the tribunal for an order cancelling the election and compelling INEC to conduct a fresh election in which Tinubu, Shettima and APC shall not participate.

But Tinubu’s camp insist that he won the election fairly.

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