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INEC must be an abysmal manipulator for declaring Obi, Atiku winners in certain states -Tribunal Judge

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Moses Ugo, one of the presidential election tribunal justices, says the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) must be an “abysmally poor” manipulator for declaring Peter Obi and Atiku Abubakar winners of the 2023 election in certain states.

INEC had declared Bola Tinubu, presidential candidate of the All Progressives Congress (APC), as winner of the February 25 poll.

Dissatisfied with the declaration, the Labour Party (LP), Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and their candidates had asked the tribunal to overturn the results on the grounds of manipulation, irregularities and non-compliance with the Electoral Act.

Ugo said the petitioners failed to prove that results of the election as reeled out by INEC were manipulated.

He said it was curious that Obi and Atiku won in certain states where Tinubu, who was alleged to have been favoured by INEC, secured “miserly” figures.

In his ruling, Ugo also wondered why Tinubu lost in his home state of Lagos to Obi of the LP, even though he was alleged to have been the favoured candidate of the umpire.

“I am of the very fixed view that the two sets of petitioners did not by any means discharge the burden on them of proving that the results of the presidential election of 25th February, 2023 as declared by 1st respondent were incorrect,” Ugo said.

ELECTRONIC TRANSMISSION OF RESULTS

The judge also ruled that the position of the petitioners that INEC refused to transmit results electronically to IReV, the viewing portal, in order to favour the APC and Tinubu, was not backed by evidence.

“Incidentally, that assertion of petitioners that INEC simply closed down or blocked its IReV and e-transmission system to enable it manipulate election results in favour of 2nd respondent, also takes me directly to the more important question in the petition,” he said.

“Namely, whether that allegation is even worthy of belief given the results declared by INEC for them and the 2nd respondent in the election.

“The question is, do the results declared by INEC support that hypothesis? I shall therefore now try to walk us through some of these election results to see if that assertion of petitioners is supported by the results declared by INEC.”

Ugo said it was curious that Tinubu lost in Abia, Anambra, Enugu, Adamawa, Ebonyi and even Lagos, among others, when he was the “favoured candidate” of the umpire.

“If all the results declared by INEC for each of the states for the two sets of petitioners and 2nd respondent is anything to go by, then INEC must be an abysmally poor manipulator, if not even an imbecilic one,” he said.

“Surely, it would not go through all the stress of closing down its IReV and blocking the public from seeing its manipulative efforts in favour of 2nd respondent as alleged by the petitioners, only for it to still end up favouring the petitioners with jumbo votes and posting miserly figures for the favoured second respondent.”

‘NOT A SINGLE POLLING UNIT RESULT TENDERED’

Ugo also said the petitioners did not tender evidence of alleged rigging from the polling units.

“At any rate, why did any of the two sets of petitioners not tender even a single polling unit result issued by INEC to their polling unit agents to support their claim of manipulation of election results by INEC, even as they all agreed that they have agents in the polling units?” he asked.

“I had thought that this is the best and most effective way of proving the manipulation of election results alleged by them.

“After all, the polling unit is the only place where voting takes place and so also constitutes the building blocks of election results.

“In short, the allegation of the petitioner that INEC shut down IReV to manipulate votes for second respondent, just does not add up for me.”

The judge added that INEC’s position that it could not electronically transmit results in real time on voting day, due to technical glitches, was a more plausible argument.

The tribunal affirmed Tinubu’s election as president of the federal republic of Nigeria on Wednesday, after dismissing the petitions of Obi, Atiku and the Allied Peoples Movement (APM).

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