Nigeria: Presidential Election Petition Court Unanimously Affirms Tinubu’s Electoral Victory

In its over 12-hour-long judgement on Wednesday, the panel of judges led by Haruna Tsammani dismissed all three petitions challenging Mr Tinubu’s election.

All five members of the Presidential Election Petition Court in Abuja, on Wednesday, unanimously affirmed the election of President Bola Tinubu.

In its over 12-hour-long judgement on Wednesday, the panel of judges led by Haruna Tsammani dismissed all three petitions challenging Mr Tinubu’s election.

The rest of the members of the panel – Stephen Adah, Misitura Bolaji-Yusuf (the only female), Moses Ugo, and Abbah Mohammed – took their turns to also adopt the reasoning and conclusion of the lead judgement.

The petitions ruled upon by the court were filed within three weeks of the declaration of Mr Tinubu as the winner of the 25 February presidential election on 1 March.

The petitioners were Atiku Abubakar of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), who was declared as the first runner-up in the election, Peter Obi of the Labour Party, the second runner-up, and the All Peoples Movement (APM), whose presidential candidates only managed to poll a little over 2,000 votes out of the 24 million votes cast in the election.

The panel unanimously stressed the total lack of credible evidence adduced by the petitioners to support their cases and described some of the legal arguments of Atiku and Mr Obi as “fallacious and ridiculous”.

The two leading opposition candidates alleged in their separate petitions widespread irregularities, manipulation of results, suppression of votes, overvoting, harassment of voters, wrong computation of votes, and inflation of Mr Tinubu’s votes in virtually all the 36 states of the federation and the federal capital, Abuja.

They also alleged corrupt practices perpetrated by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) in connivance with Mr Tinubu and his party, the All Progressives Congress (APC).

They alleged that INEC deliberately refused to upload the scanned copies of polling unit results real-time as provided in the election guidelines in order to manipulate the figures in favour of Mr Tinubu.

They also made a huge issue out of INEC’s failure to upload the scanned copies of polling unit results to the IReV, an online platform designed for the public to view the polling unit results real-time. This, they said, smacked of non-compliance with the provisions of the Electoral Act, a serious breach that ordinarily invalidates an election if proved.

They stressed that Mr Tinubu failed to meet the full constitutional requirements to be declared the winner of the election by virtue of his failure to secure minimum of 25 per cent of the votes in the federal capital, Abuja.

Mr Atiku also raised the issue of Mr Tinubu’s alleged double citizenship of Nigeria and Guinea, a situation he claims disqualified the president from running for the election in February based on the constitution of Nigeria.

The PDP candidate, who lost the 2019 presidential election and a legal challenge to the outcome in court to then President Muhammadu Buhari, also alleged, like Mr Obi, that Mr Tinubu was not qualified to contest the 2023 presidential election on the basis that a US court in Northern Illinois ordered him to forfeit $460,000 in drugs-related case in 1993.

On its part, the APM argued as the only ground of its petition, that Mr Tinubu’s nomination was invalidated by virtue of the double nomination of his running mate, Kashim Shettima, as both the vice-presidential candidate and Borno Central senatorial candidate of the APC in the 2023 presidential election.

The Tsammani-led panel of justices dismissed all the arguments and the evidence led by the petitioners.

The petitions were not supported by “credible evidence”, Mr Tsammani ruled, with his colleagues on the bench also stressing the same finding in their concurrent opinions.

The court also spotlighted procedural blunders committed by the petitioners’ legal teams.

One of such was the court’s finding that they failed to comply with strict legal and judicial authorities that mandate petitioners to file the statements on oath of all their witnesses along with their petitions or before the close of the three weeks window for filing an election petition.

Lack of adherence to this led to the court rejecting 10 out of the 13 witnesses called by Mr Obi, and 15 out of the 27 presented by Atiku.

The court also dismissed substantial number of paragraphs of the petitions that were adjudged to be “vague”, “imprecise”, and “generic” with no particulars such as the details of polling units were alleged irregularities took place.


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