The All Progressives Congress (APC) and its presidential candidate, President Muhammadu Buhari said Wednesday in their final submissions before the Presidential Election Petition Court (PEPC) that the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) presidential candidate, Alhaji Atiku Abubakar, in the February 23 presidential election did not deny that he is not a Nigerian by birth.
The respondents to the petitions filed by the PDP and Atiku challenging the Independent National Electoral Commission’s declaration of President Buhari of the APC as duly elected in the election urged the court to dismiss the petitioners’ claims for want of validity.
Wole Olanipekun and Alex Izinyon led a team of lawyers to make the final submissions for President Buhari, while Lateef Fagbemi headed the team of counsels that spoke for the APC.
Olanipekun, while urging the court to dismiss the petition with substantial cost, argued that the petition was worthless as the petitioners failed to lead any reasonable evidence to support their claim.
The APC lead counsel Fagbemi argued that all issues by it about Atiku’s qualification to contest were never countered by the PDP and Atiku. He reiterated that Atiku was ineligible to contest allegedly for not being a Nigerian by birth, stressing that all issues raised were not challenged by either Atiku or the PDP.
“On the qualification of the 1st petitioners (Atiku), in spite of all we put before the court, they provided nothing to the contrary.
“What we need is minimal proof. Nothing was put forward in the petitioners’ written address to counter this. And, I must commend them, because they have nothing to offer.
“In that respect, the 3rd respondent has discharge the burden on that. The issue of the 1st petitioner’s non-qualification is effectively dealt with in our written address.
The lead counsel to Buhari while making his submissions adduced that both the PDP and Atiku made claims about INEC having a server, they failed to prove its existence and were not even able to identify it nor show the court where it is located.
“To fault INEC’s position, they have the burden to show substantial non-compliance. They failed to do this. The implication therefore, is that there was substantial compliance with the Electoral Act in the conduct of the last presidential election,” Fagbemi said.