At last, the All Progressives Congress (APC) has responded to Peter Obi’s petition at Tribunal, raising four constitutional flaws why LP candidate should be fined for wasting the time of the court with frivolous appeal
The APC on Monday, 10 April, 2023, responding to the petition filed against it by the Labour Party and its Presidential Candidate, Mr. Peter Obi has asked the Tribunal to dismiss the petition with substantial cost (fine) on the grounds that it lacked merit and was frivolous.
These are the major issues raised by the APC legal team in response to the petition of Obi and LP:
1. Peter Obi Lacks “locus standi” to institute the petition because he was not a member of LP at least 30 days to the party’s presidential primary to be validly sponsored by the party.
“1st petitioner was screened as a presidential aspirant of the PDP in April, 2022.
“1st petitioner participated and was cleared to contest the presidential election while being a member of the PDP.
“1st petitioner purportedly resigned his membership of PDP on May 24, 2022 to purportedly join the 2nd petitioner (Labour Party) on May 27, 2022.
“2nd petitioner conducted its presidential primary on May 30, 2022 which purportedly produced 1st petitioner as its candidate, which time contravened Section 77(3) of the Electoral Act for him to contest the primary election as a member of the 2nd petitioner.”
The party argued that Obi was not a member of LP at the time of his alleged sponsorship.
The APC argued that “by the mandatory provisions of Section 77 (1) (2) and (3) of the Electoral Act 2022, a political party shall maintain a register and shall make such register available to INEC not later than 30 days before the date fixed for the party primaries, congresses and convention.”
It stated further that all the PDP’s presidential candidates were screened on 29 April 29, an exercise Mr Obi participated in and cleared to contest while being a member of the party.
It argued that the petition was incompetent since Mr Obi’s name could not have been in LP’s register made available to INEC at the time he joined the party.
2. The APC equally argued that the petition was improperly constituted having failed to join Atiku Abubakar and PDP who were necessary parties to be affected by the reliefs sought
“By Paragraph 17 of the petition, the petitioners, on their own, stated that Alhaji Atiku Abubakar came second in the presidential election with 6,984,520 votes as against the petitioners who came third with 6,101,533 votes;
“At Paragraph 102 (ii) of the petition, the petitioners urged the tribunal to determine that 1st petitioner scored the majority of lawful votes without joining Alhaji Atiku Abubakar in the petition.
“For the tribunal to grant prayer (iii) of the petitioners, the tribunal must have set aside the scores and election of Alhaji Atiku Abubakar,
“Alhaji Atiku Abubakar must be heard before his votes can be discountenanced by the tribunal,” it said.
The party said the petition and the identified paragraphs were in breach of the mandatory provisions of Paragraph 4(1)(D) of the 1st Schedule to the Electoral Act, 2022.
3. According to APC, Paragraphs 60 — 77 of the petition are non-specific, vague and/or nebulous and thereby incompetent contrary to Paragraph 4(1)(d) of the Ist Schedule to the Electoral Act, 2022.
It said that the allegations of non-compliance must be made distinctly and proved on a polling unit basis but none was specified or provided in any of the paragraphs of the petition.
“Paragraphs 59-60 of the petition disclose no identity or particulars of scores and polling units supplied in 18,088 units mentioned therein,” it added.
4. The party, therefore, argued that the tribunal lacked the requisite jurisdiction to entertain pre-election complaints embedded in the petition as presently constituted, among other arguments.
The APC urged the tribunal to dismiss the petition with substantial cost as the same was devoid of any merit and founded on frivolity.