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PEPC : Magnus Abe speaks on INEC’s promise to transmit results electronically, 25% in FCT, others

 

The 2023 governorship candidate of the Social Democratic Party in Rivers State, Senator Magnus Abe, has bared his mind on the issues trailing Wednesday’s judgment of the Presidential Election Petition Court that upheld the election of President Bola Tinubu.


Abe, who is a former chieftain of the All Progressives Congress and ally of Tinubu, in a lengthy post on his verified Facebook page on Thursday, said the judiciary has done the task expected of it in properly handling the dispute arising from the February 25 presidential election.


He, however, said that the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) actually promised to transmit election results electronically, which the PEPC failed to uphold based on relevant laws.


His words : “Immediately after the 2023 Presidential election and the winner declared by INEC, the opposition slogan has been “All eyes on the Judiciary”. Yesterday, the Nigerian judiciary effectively discharged its commitment to the Nigerian Constitution and the Nigerian people by upholding the law.


Expectedly the Presidential Election Tribunal upheld the election of President Ahmed Bola Tinubu as the democratically elected leader of our country. I say hearty congratulations to the President.


Some issues have been thrown up by the judgement on which I will like to comment:


1. On the issue of electronic transmission of results, yes, INEC did promise that all results would be electronically transmitted. Yes, all results were not electronically transmitted. But every political party accepted results collated in their favour that were not electronically transmitted, it is thus ironic that the same parties will like the results of their opponents not electronically transmitted to be declared fraudulent.


Our current legal electoral Act does not require electronic transmission for validity of any result. If INEC for whatever reason(s) did not respect that commitment, can a Court of law on that basis invalidate votes lawfully cast and declared as valid, according to our law?


The Presidential Election Petition Tribunal rightly held that a valid vote cannot be voided by administrative procedure, it can only be voided by law.


The law did not require electronic transmission as a precondition for validity and so the failure by INEC to do so cannot invalidate a vote. That is the right legal position.


Moreover, there was no evidence that the failure to transmit results electronically favoured any political party more than the other, or that the act of non electronic transmission added or subtracted from the votes cast for any party.


Our Electoral Act may need to be amended to clarify that point. But as of today, it is clear and the tribunal could not have said otherwise. However, in the future, INEC should try to stick to its own guidelines, or we should codify the rules into the Act.


2. Another issue that has generated controversy is the position of Abuja. The tribunal did not hold or declare Abuja as a state, because the status of Abuja was not the subject of the litigation, what was in issue is ‘status of the votes cast in the Federal capital territory (FCT), do Abuja residents have a veto power over our presidential elections?’ What the tribunal said was that Abuja voters do not enjoy any special status constitutionally denied to voters in other states, and so Abuja voters despite the special status of Abuja as the Federal Capital Territory cannot be said to have a veto over elections in our country that are denied to voters in other states. A candidate in counting his required twenty five percent in two thirds of the states will count Abuja like a state, that does not make Abuja a state.


That said, all the personal allegations that were used to question Asiwaju’s qualifications and legitimacy in this context were rightfully dismissed, not only were they not proved by evidence, they were clearly irrelevant to the issue of who won the 2023 presidential elections in Nigeria.


We have always maintained that there is nothing in those personal attacks except politics. That has now been established.


I congratulate the duly elected President of Nigeria, President Bola Ahmed Tinubu, as validated by the tribunal.


Let me also congratulate the petitioners Alhaji Atiku Abubakar and Peter Gregory Obi. As long as they pursue their grievances within our constitutional provisions, they deserve our respect, and their patriotism in contesting the elections must be acknowledged by us all, because without patriots like them our democracy will be a joke.


It may be time for them to extend a hand of fellowship to the winner and join hands with President Tinubu to address the challenges of insecurity and economic hardship that is now on the mind of Nigerians.


At some stage in our politics, whatever our personal feelings are, our country must come first. The progress and prosperity of our people must now come first.

Alhaji Atiku Abubabakar and HE Peter Obi have a right to decide their next steps, Whatever choice they make regarding their constitutional right to appeal, we should all respect it, but in the interest of the nation it may be time to move on.


Once again, congratulations to all Nigerians!!! Our democracy is work in progress and tomorrow will surely be better. It is now time to focus on our security and our economy.”



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