The Labour Party (LP) and Mr. Peter Obi, its presidential candidate for the general election in 2023, face a difficult challenge before the election tribunal, according to elder statesman Robert Clark.
In an interview with Arise TV on Tuesday, Clark made this statement.
He claimed that the LP Obi’s party will have a difficult time demonstrating that there were electoral irregularities in Lagos State during the Presidential election.
Remember that Tinubu of the All Progressives Congress, APC, defeated Atiku Abubakar of the Peoples Democratic Party and Obi of the Labour Party to win the 2023 presidential election.
Since then, Atiku and Obi have traveled to the courts to contest Tinubu’s victory.
“I’ll be honest with you; as an example, consider the Obi Labour Party.
They had submitted an election petition because Bola Tinubu was ineligible to run for office, that even if he were, he would not have received the required two-thirds of the vote in Abuja, and that even if he had, the election would have been tainted by gangsterism and other issues.
These three components make up the election petition that the Labour Party has proposed. Let me now draw from my own experience as a resource.
The first argument is that he is ineligible because he was convicted, but that is untrue. The argument has been made and is therefore moot. Thus, the Labour Party will never advance on that front. The second reason is that, in accordance with the constitution, you must receive two-thirds of the vote in 36 States and Abuja in order to be deemed elected, even if you received the most votes.
“The issue that the Tribunal will be debating is what constitutes two-thirds of the 36 States in Nigeria and Abuja, and how do you construct the word ‘and’ Do you start with the 36 States and then add Abuja, saying that to be elected, you must have two-thirds of the 36 States and two-thirds of the federal capital? That is the Labour Party’s position, which I disagree with.
“Now, take a look at the hypothetical they are using: If Tinubu had won two-thirds of all 36 States but fell short in Abuja, he would not have been able to be elected. If so, does it make sense? Does that provide any solid justification for democracy to endure?
“Now the Supreme Court says that look, Abuja has been established as one of the 36 States, so it enjoys the status of a state, but the Supreme Court would also say in determining whether Abuja is a state, you should not grant Abuja any privileges once you declare it as a state, the court said in one or two other cases.
“The constitution itself states that all votes cast in a Nigerian election are equal. How do you then add all these three principles—that Abuja cannot have any special status and that all votes cast in Nigeria have equal states—and then why do you want to interpret ‘and’ there to mean that even if I had 36 states, two-thirds and I don’t get Abuja, then I cannot be elected? It doesn’t make sense.
“Polarity of the people, for the people, and all the people is what democracy entails.
Therefore, to determine whether Tinubu has made the provision of two-thirds of the states, it must be the 36 states plus Abuja, which is 37 states; if he has made the polarity of two-thirds votes in all of these states added together, then he is elected. However, I am subject to other views from my learned colleagues and the Supreme Court.
Yet, as I already stated, the Supreme Court has the discretion to interpret this. Nevertheless, I am basing my argument on what the Supreme Court said in Abuja, the voting process, and the equality of the states’ votes. But I am liable for my opinion being rejected, but that is my view.
“Even if the Labour Party finds that Tinubu is ineligible based on prior practice, they still have to get over the idea that the election was tainted by numerous anomalies.
“According to the law, whatever INEC does is presumed to be legal. INEC has that advantage in Nigeria thanks to the Evident Act.
“The Supreme Court is currently in a challenging position to consider all the material that the Labour Party will present alleging malpractices. Lagos is currently the controversial location where the Labour Party is meeting. They contend that they were duped and denied the right to vote in Lagos.
“When they do prove it, though, they still need to go beyond the proof to demonstrate how it has impacted the election. So, they face a challenge.
“So in my opinion, based on my personal experience with election-related issues, they face an uphill battle, but you never know. The Senior Advocate of Nigeria, Clark, continued, “I believe that they have an uphill task because you never know the conditions of these malpractices and you never know how many votes were not permitted to be cast. Hence, I cannot pitch my tent to declare that they would not prevail.