Adedayo Akinwale in Abuja
The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) will on Monday inaugurate a seven-member legal team to handle all presidential election cases on behalf of the commission.
INEC had on February 27 declared President Muhammadu Buhari of the All Progressives Congress (APC) winner of the 2019 presidential election after he got a total of 15,191,847 votes to defeat the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) presidential candidate, Alhaji Atiku Abubakar, who scored 11,262,978 votes.
The former vice president rejected the results, citing irregularities, and subsequently revealed his decision to approach the tribunal to reclaim his mandate.
Atiku and his party last week filed their case before the Presidential Election Tribunal in Abuja, where he claimed that data from the INEC server revealed that his votes were reduced in 31 states and the Federal Capital Territory (FCT).
Atiku claimed that he defeated Buhari with 1,615,302 votes, stressing that the data from INEC server showed that he actually polled a total of 18,356,732 votes to defeat President Muhammadu Buhari, who had 16,741,430 votes.
The electoral body in a leaked letter obtained by THISDAY Saturday, dated March 21, 2019, with reference number INEC/LEG/DR/391/1/7 and addressed to Yunus Ustaz Usman (SAN) and signed by the Secretary to the Commission, Mrs Rose Oriaran-Anthony, showed that the commission was ready to defend its decision to declare Buhari as the winner of the election.
The letter read, “This is to notify you of the approval by the commission of the composition of the under listed legal practitioners as members of its legal team to handle all presidential election petitions on its behalf.
“Yunus Ustaz Usman (SAN), Dr. Onyechi Ikpeazu (SAN), Omoruyi Augustine Omonuwa (SAN), Tanimu Inuwa (SAN), Abdulrahmab Madaki esquire, and B.M Saluhu.
“The fee payable for the engagement shall be as negotiated between the commission and the legal practitioners.
“If this offer is acceptable, you are required to indicate in writing to the undersigned and note that the agreed terms engagement deals be reduced into an agreement. Further note that all the Presidential team shall be inaugurated on Monday, 25th March, 2019 at the commission’s conference room by 2:00p.m.”