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Presidential Election Court Dismiss All Petitions Against Tinubu’s Victory: Peter Obi, Atiku Mull Heading To Supreme Court On Appeal

The Presidential Election Petition Tribunal (PEPT) on Wednesday upheld the victory of President Bola Tinubu in the February 25, 2023, Nigerian presidential election.

In a unanimous judgement, the five judges of the tribunal dismissed all petitions by opposition parties and their presidential candidates; Atiku Abubakar of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) – who came second in the election; Peter Obi of the Labour Party – third position, and the All Peoples Movement (APM), which managed to poll about 2,000 of 24 million votes cast in the election, challenging the process and outcome of the election.

The petitioners, Atiku Abubakar and Peter Obi in their separate petitions alleged widespread irregularities, corrupt practices, suppression of votes, overvoting, harassment of voters, wrong computation of votes and general non-compliance by the electoral body, INEC, in the execution of the election such as deliberately refusing to upload the scanned copies of polling unit results in real-time as provided in the election guidelines.

The opposition candidates each prayed the court to declare them winners of the election or in the alternative order fresh poll in which Mr Tinubu and his party, the APC would be ineligible to contest.

Furthermore, they disputed Tinubu’s emergence as president on the grounds that he did not get the constitutionally mandated minimum of 25 per cent of the votes in the federal capital, Abuja. Tinubu got 19% of the FCT votes.

Judges of the Presidential Election Petition Tribunal (PEPT), Haruna Tsammani, Stephen Adah, Misitura Bolaji-Yusuf (the only female on the bench), Moses Ugo, and Abbah Mohammed.

Additionally, they alleged that Tinubu’s dual citizenship of Nigeria and Guinea, an indictment by a US court in Northern Illinois on drug related charges and forfeiture of nearly half a million USD, and Tinubu’s invalidly nominated running mate Kashim Shettima, all constituted grounds to disqualify him from even contesting the election let alone stand elected.

The opposition supporters seemed very confident that they made an unassailable legal case against the election.

But in their judgement on Wednesday which rattled many observers, the justices of the panel unanimously thrashed all allegations describing them as “fallacious and ridiculous” and rebuking the petitioners for not providing “credible evidence” to support their claims.

The reading of the judgement lasted nearly 13 hours and was televised live.

The lead judge Haruna Tsammani surmised, “It is very clear that there was no credible evidence by the petitioners to prove the allegations of corrupt practices”.

The court concluded that INEC was right to declare Mr. Tinubu the winner of the election. “in the absence of any other rival or alternate results placed before this court by the petitioners that the second respondent (Mr. Tinubu) who scored 8,794,722 votes as against 6,984,520 votes scored by the petitioners (Atiku and PDP).”

Having considered and decided that the three petitions … are all devoid of merit, the petitions are hereby dismissed.

Accordingly, I find the declaration and return of Bola Ahmed Tinubu by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) as the duly elected President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria,” Tsammani declared.

Other members of the tribunal include Justices Stephen Adah, Misitura Bolaji-Yusuf (the only female on the bench), Moses Ugo, and Abbah Mohammed. In their separate judgements, they sided with the conclusions of the lead judge.

Infact, in a dig against a boisterous Labour Party supporters known as the “Obidients”, Judge Adah, quipped that justice “is neither based on technicality nor on justice according to the suggestive clout of pressure groups.”

When a court of law is called upon to determine an election dispute, he is called upon to do justice. Our notion of doing justice is not that of doing justice according to the whims and caprices of the judges or the parties; it must be justice according to law,” Mr. Adah, the second most senior judge on the panel, added.

In agreeing with his colleagues, Judge Ms Bolaji-Yusuf remarked, “Election petition is a serious issue, and a petitioner is not permitted to engage in a fishing expedition or a roving enquiry as the petitioners herein did.”

It is clear from the outset that the petitioners were engaging in wild goose chase and an inquisitorial adventure,” she added.

Notwithstanding its notoriety for flawed elections since her independence in 1960, no presidential election have so far ever been upturned in Nigeria’s chequered political history.

Nevertheless, the verdict of Wednesday did not come to kin observers of Nigeria’s politics as a surprise.

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Iheanacho Achugbu
Iheanacho Achugbuhttps://joliba.com.ng
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