As the outcome of the 2023 presidential election shifts to the courts, the three candidates of the main rival political parties have assembled their legal teams.
The candidate of the All Progressives Congress (APC) who was declared winner of the election, Bola Tinubu; that of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Atiku Abubakar; and Peter Obi of the Labour Party (LP) have all set up teams to confront the legal fireworks that are set to commence at the Presidential Election Petitions Tribunal at the Court of Appeal in Abuja.
The Legal Adviser of the APC, Ahmad Usman El-Marzuq, said in a statement yesterday that the APC legal team to the tribunal is composed of himself and 11 Senior Advocates of Nigeria (SANs) and led by Lateef Fagbemi.
Other senior advocates in the APC team are Sam Ologun-Orisa, Rotimi Oguneso, Olabisi Soyebo, Gboyega Oyewole, Muritala Abdulrasheed, Aliyu Omezia Saiki, Tajudeen Oladoja, Pius Akubo, Oluseye Opasanya, Suraja Saida and Kazeem Adeniyi.
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Atiku’s legal team is composed of many SANs, including Levi Uzoukwu, Mike Ozekhome and Maxwell Gidado.
A lawyer in Atiku’s team, who pleaded anonymity, informed Daily Trust that it was not yet clear who would lead the team, but that more lawyers were expected on board.
Obi’s legal team has Dr Onyechi Ikpeazu (SAN) leading a team of 38 other SANs and other lawyers.
The LP senator-elect of Anambra Central, Victor Umeh, announced this in a Radio programme in Awka monitored by Daily Trust.
Umeh said most of the lawyers who had already held a meeting with Obi had sent their commitment to appear in the matter pro bono (free of charge) because they were opposed to the unfair conduct of the presidential election of February 25.
Court rules on request to reconfigure BVAS today
The Court of Appeal will today rule on the application of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) which is seeking leave to reconfigure the Bimodal Voter Accreditation System (BVAS) used for the just concluded presidential election.
A three-member panel of justices led by Justice Joseph Ikyegh fixed the date after listening to the application, including a fresh request by the presidential candidate of the Labour Party (LP), Peter Obi, seeking permission to physically inspect the BVAS used for the February 25, election.
INEC’s counsel, Tanimu Inuwa (SAN), had informed the court that no information would be lost in the about 176,000 BVAS that were deployed to polling units during the presidential election as the data would be uploaded to the backend of INEC’s server.
INEC said it needed the devices for the conduct of the governorship and state assembly elections on March 11.
But counsel to Obi and LP, Dr Onyechi Ikpeazu (SAN), said the essence of the application was to enable them to extract data embedded in the BVAS “which represent the actual results from polling units.”
He said if the appellate court permitted the reconfiguration being requested by INEC, data could be wiped out which would affect the substance of the case.
Similarly, the presidential candidate of the All Progressives Congress (APC) and president-elect, Bola Tinubu, has applied for an order of the court to access sensitive materials used for the conduct of the February 25, presidential election.
Tinubu’s counsel, Akintola Makinde, said the application was to enable him to inspect, scan and make photocopies of some of the electoral materials to enable him prepare for the defence of the petitions against his client.
The Court of Appeal had on March 3, granted leave to the LP candidate and that of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Atiku, to inspect the election materials.