By Simeon OSAJIE
There is serious tension in the camp of the All Progressives Congress (APC) presidential and vice presidential candidates, Bola Ahmed Tinubu and Ibrahim Shettima respectively, as evidence reveals that Shettima is not qualified to contest the election.
This was deduced from two documents submitted by Senator Shettima to the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), Certified True Copies (CTC) of which were obtained by Mr. Peter Gregory Obi and his party, the Labour Party (LP).
The first document dated July 14, 2022, showed one Ibrahim Kabir Masari, who was originally presented as the running mate to Tinubu, withdrawing his candidacy for Shettima.
The document was, however, received and stamped by INEC on July 15, 2022.
The second document dated July 15, 2022, showed Shettima, who was originally the candidate of Borno Central senatorial District, withdrawing his candidacy for one Lawan Kaka Shehu.
The document was also received and stamped by INEC on July 15, 2022.
Recall Labour Party/Peter Obi had petitioned the Presidential Election Petition Court to disqualify Shettima as he was, at the time of the election, not qualified to contest the election.
The Petitioners averred that on the 14th of July 2022, Shettima, contrary to the provisions of the Electoral Act 2022, whilst still being a Senatorial candidate for Borno Central Constituency, knowingly allowed himself to be nominated as the Vice Presidential Candidate to Tinubu on the platform of APC and became the new candidate for the office of the Vice President on that date (14 July 2022).
The Petitioners relied on Form EC11A signed by the Shettima and INEC officials on that same 14th of July 2022.
“The 1st Respondent was a candidate nominated by the 4th Respondent for the office of Senate in the Borno Central Senatorial Constituency until 15 July 2022 when he signed the Independent National Electoral Commission Senatorial Election Notice of Withdrawal of Candidate purporting to withdraw from the contest called Form EC11C. The Petitioners hereby plead and shall at the trial rely on:
(i) Affidavit and Personal Particulars (Form EC9) submitted by the 3rd Respondent for Borno Central Senatorial Constituency sworn to on 14 June 2022 and received by the 1st Respondent on 17 June 2022.
(ii) Affidavit in support or Personal Particulars (Form EC9) submitted by the 3rd Respondent for the office of the Vice Presidential Candidate for the Constituency of Nigeria (the Federal Republic of Nigeria) received by the Is1 Respondent on 15 July 2022.
(iii) Notice of withdrawal of Candidate (pursuant to section 33 of the Electoral Act, 2022), Form EC11A dated 14 July 2022 signed by the 3rd Respondent as the New Candidate (Vice Presidential) of the All-Progressives Congress and also containing the passport picture of the 3rd Respondent as New Candidate.
(iv) Notice of Withdrawal of Candidate (Pursuant to Section 33 of the Electoral Act, 2022), Form EC11C dated 15 July 2022 signed by the 3rd Respondent as the withdrawing candidate of the All-Progressives Congress for Borno Central Senatorial Constituency and also containing the passport picture of the 3rd Respondent.
“As at the time the 3rd Respondent purportedly became a Vice Presidential Candidate, he was still the nominated Senatorial candidate of the 4th Respondent for the Senatorial election for the Borno Central Senatorial Constituency.
“The Petitioners shall contend at the trial that the purported sponsorship of the 2nd and 3rd Respondents by the 4th Respondent was rendered invalid by reason of the 3rd Respondent knowingly allowing himself to be nominated as the Vice-Presidential Candidate whilst he was still a Senat01ial Candidate for the Borno Central Constituency.
“The Petitioners shall further contend that for this reason, the votes purportedly recorded for the 2nd Respondent at the contested Presidential election were/are wasted votes and ought to be disregarded.’
No longer APC’s Senatorial candidate for the Borno Central Senatorial election.
According to him, the Notice of withdrawal signed by Shettima on July 6, 2022, was conveyed by officials on the July 15, 2022, to INEC to enable APC present him to INEC as its Vice Presidential candidate.
He further claimed that the date on the Notice of withdrawal is not the date Shettima withdrew from contesting as a senatorial candidate for the Borno Central Senatorial Election.
Tinubu to Tribunal: Shettima eminently qualified to contest presidential election
Tinubu’s proposal is, however, considered ridiculous because APC and INEC differed in their positions.
APC said that Shettima was nominated for VP on the 14th of July though INEC did not receive his withdrawal notice immediately.
Therefore, they will stick to his withdrawal date as the day he wrote the letter and not the day received and stamped by INEC on July 15, 2022.
INEC, on the other hand, said that Shettima wrote the letter of withdrawal on July 6th, but that it did not receive the letter until July 13th, hence, concluded that Shettima withdrew on the 6th.
Reacting to the various positions of APC and INEC, a News Band analyst, who spoke on condition of anonymity opined:
“What INEC is saying is that Shettima wrote a letter of withdrawal on July 6th, but the letter didn’t get to INEC until July 13th of July, therefore, Shettima withdrew on the 6th! Does that sound logical?
“APC is saying that, Shettima was nominated for VP on the 14th of July although INEC hadn’t received his withdrawal notice yet, therefore, they will stick to his withdrawal date as the day he wrote the letter and not the day INEC received it!
“APC said the letter was dated July 6th but delivered to INEC on July 15th. INEC said the letter was dated July 6th but was received on the 13th.
“Anyone can write a notice of withdrawal to INEC but leave it at home for as long as they want, but until the letter is in their hands and stamped as received, INEC can’t say they received it earlier or attempt to backdate that withdrawal.
“The most important thing is both of them should submit their contradictory evidences in court, that’s when they’ll know that the day a letter was received is the day that counts not the days it took it to arrive Abuja from Borno.”