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INEC’s support of Tinubu at the Presidential Tribunal is slammed by Peter Obi.

Peter Obi, the Labour Party’s presidential candidate, has accused the electoral umpire of failing to maintain impartiality in the case in his response to the preliminary objection the Independent National Electoral Commission made to his petition at the Presidential Election Petition Tribunal Court in Abuja.

The WHISTLER previously reported that INEC, in its objection filed by A.B. Mahmoud SAN, disagreed with Obi’s claim that the results of the 2023 presidential election ought to be transmitted electronically through the Bimodal Voter Accreditation System (BVAS) machine to a public result viewing portal known as the IReV. INEC also disagreed with Obi’s claim that Tinubu does not qualify to be declared the winner of the 2023 polls in accordance with Section

The section begins with: 1) A possibility for a political decision to the workplace of President will be considered to have been properly chosen, where, there being just two contender for the political decision – (a) he has most of votes projected at the political decision; b) He has at least one quarter of the votes cast in at least two-thirds of the states in the Federation and Abuja, the Federal Capital Territory, for the election.

In FCT, Obi scored 281,717 votes to overcome Tinubu and Atiku Abubakar who had 90,902 and 74,199 votes, separately (under 25%).

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However, INEC’s attorney, Abubakar Mahmoud SAN, had told the court that “FCT has no special constitutional status over and above the other 36 states of the federation to require a candidate in the presidential election to obtain at least 25% of the votes cast in the FCT before being declared winner.”

While it is true that collation officers must ensure that the number of accredited voters matches the number captured in the BVAS and that the votes of parties match the result electronically transmitted directly from the polling units before collating the results, the electoral umpire acknowledged that collation officers are permitted by law to use INEC’s copy of the polling unit results in the event that no results have been electronically transmitted from a polling unit.

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Obi attacked INEC in his response to the court, accusing it of forgetting its role as an impartial umpire.

“INEC, neglecting its job as a discretionary umpire, gave a notification of fundamental issue with challenge the supposed ineptitude of the request.

According to Obi’s response, “an electoral umpire must avoid creating the impression that it has no respect for neutrality in an electoral contest between candidates” is one of the global best practices for electoral umpires in national elections.

In addition, Obi’s legal team argued that the Court of Appeal had repeatedly instructed INEC to remain neutral in electoral proceedings in previous rulings and decisions, and that it would be “embarrassing” for INEC to “adorn the garb of a contestant” in an election it conducted.

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Obi’s team maintained that the electoral umpire’s contention is “not true” and that the 1999 constitution makes it mandatory in regard to INEC’s argument that 25% votes from FCT are not required in the 2023 presidential election.

Obi cited a Federal High Court decision that stated that the BVAS is “core” to the election in relation to the method of collation and declaration of results.

According to the submission made by Obi’s team, “It is not true that INEC compared the results of the election with any hard copies and counter-part copies issued to Nigeria Police and the political party agents as claimed in paragraph 73 of the 1st Respondent’s (INEC) reply.”

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