The Presidential Election Petition Court in Abuja, on Wednesday, admitted the final presidential election results as exhibits in Peter Obi’s suit seeking to overturn President Bola Tinubu’s victory.
Mr Obi, who was the presidential candidate of the Labour Party, is praying to the court to nullify the victory of Mr Tinubu of the All Progressives Congress (APC) as Nigeria’s president.
Mr Tinubu won the 25 February presidential poll after defeating his closest challenger, Atiku Abubakar of the Peoples Democratic Party, and Mr Obi, who came third in the keenly contested election.
The chairman of the electoral commission, Mahmood Yakubu, a professor, on 1 March declared Mr Tinubu, the winner of the election.
Mr Tinubu’s declaration as president-elect would set the stage for a legal battle to void or affirm the president’s victory.
Mr Obi alleges electoral fraud and breach of the constitution and electoral laws against the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) and Mr Tinubu during the polls.
At the resumed hearing of Mr Obi’s petition on Wednesday, the five-member panel of the court led by Haruna Tsammani, the Labour Party candidate, tendered the collated final presidential election results relied upon by INEC in declaring Mr Tinubu, winner of the polls.
Mr Obi’s lawyer, Paul Ananaba, a professor and SAN, tendered the documents before the court on Wednesday.
The court admitted the results without opposition from the respondents, who have consistently objected to the admissibility of election results and other electoral documents used in the conduct of the election from the states of Nigeria.
The respondents – Mr Tinubu, Kashim Shettima (the vice president), APC and INEC – consented to the admissibility of the final results.
Results from states tendered
Also, at the session on Wednesday, the collated results in the 36 states and the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) were tendered and admitted as exhibits.
Mr Obi, his vice presidential pick, Datti Baba-Ahmed, and other party stalwarts have been attending the court’s proceedings since the hearing of the substantive suit began on 30 May.
The court admitted as exhibits ward collated results from 13 States comprising: Bayelsa, Benue, Cross River, Ebonyi, Edo, Lagos, Niger and Ondo states.
Other states are Oyo, Rivers, Sokoto,
The Labour Party flagbearer presented collated results in eight local government areas of Bayelsa, 23 in Benue, 18 in Cross River,10 in Ebonyi, 18 in Edo, 20 in Lagos and 25 in Niger States.
Other states include 18 in Ondo, 33 in Oyo, 23 in Rivers, 23 in Sokoto, 16 in Ekiti and 25 in Delta.
Expectedly, Mr Tinubu, INEC, Mr Tinubu, Mr Shetima and the APC objected to the admissibility of this set of electoral documents.
However, the court admitted them as exhibits and would entertain hearing on written objection by lawyers to the respondents at the close of arguments in the case.
Subsequently, the court adjourned the suit until Thursday for further hearing.
With Mr Obi drawing the curtains on tendering of documentary evidence in the petition, the stage is now set for him to call witnesses in full swing to prove his case.
He has only called one witness since the commencement of the hearing in the substantive suit, though he had indicated his intention to call 50 witnesses to substantiate his claims.
Mr Obi’s lawyer, Mr Ananaba, while speaking to journalists shortly after Wednesday’s proceedings, said his client would now begin to call the rest of his witnesses before the court.
The lawyer explained that witnesses would speak through the admitted documents to establish places where electoral fraud was allegedly perpetrated during the February election.