Wednesday, March 22, 2023

INEC violated margin of lead principle to declare Tinubu president-elect, Atiku tells court

It is unclear whether the public can expect an upturn of Mr Tinubu’s widely criticised win, however, the margin of lead argument poses a threat to his camp.

• March 22, 2023
Bola Tinubu and Atiku Abubakar
Bola Tinubu and Atiku Abubakar

Presidential candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Atiku Abubakar, has urged the election petition tribunal to upturn the results declared by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC).

Mr Atiku is invoking the margin of lead principle to assert that INEC’s hasty announcement of President-elect Bola Tinubu as the winner of the February 25 presidential poll is unconstitutional and without due process. 
Per the principle, when the margin of lead between the winner and the runner-up is less than the total number of voters affected by cancellations in their different polling units, the election is declared inconclusive and a re-run is organised. 

“The Petitioners further contend that the votes ascribed to the 2nd Respondent by the 1st Respondent in the final declaration made is 8,794,726 while the votes credited to the Petitioners is 6,984,520 resulting in a margin of lead of 1,810,206 votes.
“The Petitioners state that the Permanent Voters Cards (PVCs) collected in the polling units where elections were cancelled and did not hold across the Country is over and above 1,810,206 which is the margin of lead between the 1st Petitioner and the 2nd Respondent, and in consequence, the return of the 2nd Respondent was hasty, premature and wrongful.

” The Petitioners hereby plead Form EC8B series, that is, the Ward Collated Results, and the records of the Permanent Voters Cards PVCS collected in the respective polling units where elections were not held or were cancelled,” court documents detailing Mr Atiku’s argument read. 
Prominent lawyers have described the days ahead for the tribunal as interesting based on the petitions being filed by several discontented political parties. 
It is unclear whether the public can expect an upturn of Mr Tinubu’s widely criticised win, however, the margin of lead argument poses a threat to his camp. The principle was repeatedly invoked in the just-concluded gubernatorial election when elections for Kebbi and Adamawa states were declared inconclusive. 
With publicly available facts, Mr Tinubu’s hope of running is four-year term will hang on the election tribunal’s interpretation of several sections of the constitution and electoral statutes. 

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