JUST IN: “We Won’t Flog Dead Horses” – APC Refuses to Open Defence in Atiku’s Petition

The All Progressives Congress (APC) informed the Presidential Election Petition Court on Wednesday that it would not partake in the exercise of flogging dead horses.

POLITICS NIGERIA reports that the party has declined to present a defence in the petition filed by the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and its presidential candidate, Abubakar Atiku, challenging the conduct and outcome of the February 25 presidential election.

Prince Lateef Olasunkanmi Fagbemi SAN, the lead counsel for APC, stated that there was nothing to defend in the separate petitions of the Labour Party and the PDP.

This newspaper learnt that the decision to abstain from opening a defence in Atiku’s petition came after extensive cross-examination of the Senate Majority Leader, Michael Opeyemi Bamidele, who was the key witness for President Bola Ahmed Tinubu.

Fagbemi questioned Senator Bamidele, who is also a legal practitioner. During the examination, the witness admitted that Tinubu’s election could not be overturned based on his forfeiture of $460,000 to the United States of America (USA) through a court order.

The witness clarified that Tinubu had never been arraigned, indicted, or convicted of any criminal charges by an American court, emphasising that civil forfeiture cannot replace a criminal trial and conviction.

Senator Bamidele stated, “As far as criminal indictment is concerned, Bola Ahmed Tinubu has a clean bill of health because he was never indicted and convicted by any American court.”

Regarding President Tinubu’s eligibility in the Federal Capital Territory (FCT), the witness, responding to questioning by Eyitayo Jegede, SAN, counsel to Atiku and PDP, stated that Tinubu did not need to score 25 percent of the votes cast in the FCT to be declared the winner of the election. He further emphasised that the FCT holds no special status other than being the federal capital.

When confronted with the fact that Tinubu was the first president to be declared without scoring 25 percent of the votes in the FCT and without winning his home state, the witness disregarded its significance.

Additionally, the witness clarified that the judgment of the US court on the forfeiture of $460,000 was related to civil proceedings and not criminal charges against Tinubu.

Following the conclusion of the testimony, Fagbemi announced the closure of President Tinubu’s defence, while Lateef Fagbemi announced the closure of defence on behalf of the APC.

The Court has granted a period of 10 days for the respondents to file their final written addresses, with the petitioner given 7 days to respond and 5 days to reply on points of law. Presiding Justice Haruna Tsammani stated that the parties would be notified of the date to adopt the final written addresses.

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