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How Tinubu Will Floor Obi

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By Ladapo Kolade

All is set for the mother of legal battles between President-elect Senator Bola Ahmed Tinubu and the candidate that came third in the February 25, 2023, presidential election, Mr. Peter Obi.

Defending Tinubu in this landmark case are 50 legal luminaries led by Mr. Wole Olaonipekun, a Senior Advocate of Nigeria.

They include senior advocates such as former Attorney-General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Akin Olujimi,  Yusuf Ali, Lateef Fagbemi, A.U. Mustapha, Ahmed Raji, Abiodun Owonikoko, Kemi Pinheiro, Niyi Akintola and H.M. Liman.

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Others are Taiwo Osipitan, Babatunde Ogala, Roland Otaru, James Onoja, Muiz Banire, Olusola Oke, and a former Bauchi State Governor Mohammed Abubakar.

Obi is disputing the qualification of the president-elect and the processes of his election.

The Labour Party candidate has joined the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, the All Progressives Congress, and the Vice President-elect, Senator Kashim Shettima.

Following a rigorous review of the Labour Party’s petition, the legal team of the president-elect has submitted its counter-arguments to the courts.

The document obtained by Echonews provides details of how the president-elect’s team plans to floor Obi at the courts.

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In the first instance, Tinubu’s lawyers will persuade the court that Obi ought not to be on the ballot as the candidate of the Labour Party in the first place.

To prove it, the lawyers will rely on the Electoral Law which states that only members of a political party whose names appear on the register submitted to INEC 30 days before the party’s primaries are eligible to contest the primaries.

Applying the law, Tinubu’s lawyers will present the list of the Labour Party’s membership register which does not include Peter Obi’s name, and the party register of the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP which includes Obi’s name 30 days to its primaries.

It will also present the letter of resignation written by Obi to the PDP dated May 24, 2022, to further confirm that, not being a member, he could not have been eligible to participate in the primaries of the Labour Party to elect a presidential candidate.

On this first ground, Tinubu’s lawyers will conclude that the first petitioner (Obi) did not have any right to contest the presidential election held on 25th February 2023 while the second petitioner, (Labour Party) also had no legal right to present the first petitioner as its candidate for the said election contrary to their petition.

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The second ground to be canvassed by Tinubu’s lawyers is that the petitioner’s prayer before the Court that he should be disqualified because of corrupt practices is not supported by facts and the law.

Describing the petition as ” incompetent, nebulous and imprecise”, they will persuade the court that it has no jurisdiction to hear it.

The president-elect’slawyers will also ask the court to dismiss Obi’s prayers seeking the Court to determine that as of the February 25 presidential election, Tinubu and Shettima were not qualified to contest as “incompetent and ungrantable”.

Obi’s lawyers had sought, first to disqualify Tinubu from the election, cancel his votes as wasted to boost the significance of the votes of the third-place contestant.

But Tinubu’s lawyers, on a tit-for-tat tactic, will be going for his jugular by using his attempt to belong to two parties at the same time as the albatross that made him ineligible to contest.

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They will also take on the Obi team on its prayers as regards the status of the Federal Capital Territory in deciding when a presidential candidate has obtained the mandatory 25 percent of votes cast in two-thirds of the states by accusing the team of manipulating the letters of the Constitution.

According to the reply to the petition obtained by Echonews, Wole Olanipekun, SAN and his team will argue that ” by the way and manner the petitioners have couched reliefs 1(iii), they have adulterated, twisted, edited and manipulated the clear provision of Section 134 of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999 as amended”.

They will explain to the court, that, by introducing a coma, in the wording of the section, the petitioners have altered the spirit, intention, and letter of the said section of the Constitution.

The lawyers will also prove to the court that the Labour Party was unlikely to win the election because it had been on the fringe of the electoral system has won only one state governorship in elections from 1999 to 2019.

By contrast, the APC was better positioned to win because it controlled the presidency, 20 state governors, 64 senators, 217 members of the House of Representatives, and over 600 members of the state Houses of Assembly.

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The lawyers will argue that Obi has been inconsistent in party affiliation and has moved from the All Progressives Grand Alliance to the PDP and the Labour Party.

Furthermore, they will present data showing how the Labour Party could not garner up to 25 percent in 21 states and it could only win a governorship in the March 18 polls.

In the reply, the president-elect’s team refuted allegations of the petitioners concerning the qualification of both Tinubu and Shettima to contest and pray the court to dismiss the petition.

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