Consider FCT as 37 state of the Federation for purpose of February, 25 presidential election – Tinubu

..Unconstitutional to make FCT a state midway, says Atiku

..As Court reserves judgment

President Bola Ahmed Tinubu on Tuesday asked the Presidential Election l Petition Court(PEPC), sitting in Abuja to consider the Federal Capital Territory(FCT), Abuja as the 37 states of the federation for the purpose of the February 25 presidential election.

Adopting his final written address in respond to Abubakar Atiku’s petition challenging his election, Tinubu, through his lead counsel chief wole Olanipekun, (SAN) urged the court to read the Constitution collectively, particularly as it regarded to FCT and submitted that that the FCT, is the 37 state for purpose of the election.

Referring to section 134(2)b which provides that a candidate contesting for post of president must score not less than one-quarter of the vote cast at the election in at least two-third of all the states in the federation and FCT, Abuja.

He added that Tinubu had won one-third of two-third votes in FCT which qualifies him to be declared President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.

The senior lawyer also submitted that there is a difference between transfer and transmits of elections results adding that Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC)’s I-Rev portal plays no rules in the collection of election results.

According to Olanipekun, all the documents presented by Atiku were dumped on the court, saying that it would be unfair to the respondents if the Court place any value on the dumped documents.

He also said said it would be for the public interest that the court would not set aside the decision of the electorates and urged the court to dismiss the petition.

Counsel to the Independent national electoral commission, Abubakar Mahmoud (SAN), said the petitioner failed to discharge the burden of proof required of them by law.

He said the major plank of petition is non-compliance in the use of technology, explained that the innovation was a major innovation in 2022 electoral act, adding that the application entails use of device for authentication and transmission of result from polling unit to I-Rev and urged the court to hold that the innovation was effectively and securely applied as provided by Amazon web services (AWS).

He said that the evidence before the court shows clearly the good intention of INEC in its conduct of credible elections. He however disagreed with the petitioner on the existence of the election collation centre.

INEC agreed with the petitioner that there was a glitch that disturbed the transmission of the presidential election result in real time and urged the court to hold that the glitch was not human interference as the petitioner were not able to proof to court how it affected the final result, stating that the whole case on non -compliance had collapsed.

He said that the constitutional provision which requires a candidate to secure 25 percent of votes cast in the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) is illogical and run contrary to the spirit of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria 1999 as amended.

Counsel to the All progressive Congress, (APC), Chief Lateef Fagbemi( SAN), also adopted his processes and asked the Court to dismiss the petition as lacking in merit. He said all the issues raised by the petitioner have been addressed and settled in previous judicial pronouncements already in evidence before the court.

On a $460,000 forfeiture order by US court, Fagbemi said the fine does not warrant disqualification of President Tinubu from contesting the election, he said however assuming it is an indictment, Nigeria Constitution is a forgiven one that does not breed hatred and it was done over 20 years ago.

Though he did not concede the case of dual citizenship, he said Nigeria Nigeria Constitution allows a citizen by birth to contest with a dual citizenship certificate.

Counsel to petitioner, Chris Uche, SAN insisted that securing 25 percent vote cast in the FCT is mandatory.

He said the technical glitch as claimed by INEC was deliberate in order to give room for manipulation of election results nationwide.

According to him, the burden were on the electoral body to show why they were technical glitch in technology that Nigeria had spent N355 Billion.

Uche urged the court to hold that there was deliberate non compliance which was nationwide to manipulate election results in favour of Tinubu.

He urged the court to accord values to the objective of the European Union election observer mission and urged the court to allow the petition and grant all the reliefs sought.

Meanwhile the court after listening to addresses reserved judgment in the petition to a date that would be communicated to the parties.