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Tribunal: Why INEC can’t defend Tinubu’s qualifications — Atiku

The candidate of the People’s Democratic Party, PDP, in the last presidential election, Alhaji Atiku Abubakar, says it’s an anomaly for Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, to file processes to defend the qualifications of the President-elect, Asiwaju Bola Tinubu.

Atiku maintained that it was wrong for the electoral body to become partial and throw its weight behind the president-elect, whose election victory is a subject of dispute in court.

While accusing INEC of fighting a proxy war for Tinubu, the PDP candidate who came second in the presidential election held on February 25, through his team of lawyers led by Chief Chris Uche, SAN, urged the Presidential Election Petition Court sitting in Abuja, to dismiss a counter affidavit and preliminary objection the Commission filed to challenge his petition.

According to Atiku, INEC lacked the legal capacity to defend the controversy surrounding Tinubu’s educational qualifications, his age as well as his alleged indictment in a drug-related case in the United States of America, USA.

While accusing INEC of fighting a proxy war for Tinubu, the PDP candidate who came second in the presidential election held on February 25, through his team of lawyers led by Chief Chris Uche, SAN, urged the Presidential Election Petition Court sitting in Abuja, to dismiss a counter affidavit and preliminary objection the Commission filed to challenge his petition.

According to Atiku, INEC lacked the legal capacity to defend the controversy surrounding Tinubu’s educational qualifications, his age as well as his alleged indictment in a drug-related case in the United States of America, USA.

He contended that INEC, being the umpire that conducted the election, ought to remain neutral in the case.

Atiku’s lawyer had at the resumed proceedings in the matter, notified the court that there were seven pending applications, among which he said included the one that INEC sought the striking out of 32 paragraphs of the petition relating to Tinubu’s qualifications.

Uche, SAN, prayed the court to not only dismiss INEC’s preliminary objection but to also declare it as a gross abuse of the judicial process.

“All that INEC has done is to ask for averments that were against Tinubu to be struck out. INEC is fighting a proxy war for Tinubu, which a neutral umpire is not expected to do. This is very wrong my lords,” Atiku’s lawyer added.

However, INEC, which is the first respondent in the matter, through its team of lawyers led by Mr. Abubakar Mahmood, SAN, asked the court to either strike out the said paragraphs or dismiss the entire petition for want of competence.

Likewise, Tinubu’s lawyer, Chief Wole Olanipekun, SAN, and that of the APC, Prince Lateef Fagbemi, SAN, equally drew the attention of the court to processes they also filed for the petition to be dismissed.

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