Presidential poll: Tight security as tribunal begins sitting - NEWS FRONTIER DAILY


Monday, May 8, 2023

Presidential poll: Tight security as tribunal begins sitting

There is tight security presence at the Court of Appeal in Abuja, venue of the Presidential Election Petition Court, PEPC.

The court is expected to conduct pre-hearing session on various petitions seeking to annul the outcome of the presidential election that held on February 25.

The Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, had on March 1, announced Bola Tinubu of the ruling All Progressives Congress, APC, as the winner of the presidential poll, ahead of 17 other candidates that contested the election.

It declared that Tinubu scored a total of 8,794,726 votes to defeat Atiku Abubakar of the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, who polled a total of 6,984,520 votes and Peter Obi of the Labour Party, LP, who came third with a total of 6,101,533 votes.

Both Atiku and Obi had since lodged separate petitons to challenge the outcome of the presidential election. 

Aside from contending that the President-elect was not duly elected by majority of lawful votes cast at the election, the petitioners, equally alleged that the Tinubu's election victory was invalid by reason of corrupt practices.

Besides, they accused INEC of failing to comply with provisions of the Electoral Act, 2022, both in the conduct and collation of results of the election, across the 36 states of the federation.

They maintained that Tinubu was at the time of the election, not qualified to contest, insisting that the Vice-President elect, Kashim Shettima, was previously nominated for a senatorial election.

Likewise, they argued that the President-elect was previously indicted in a drug- related case.

However, Tinubu has since filed processes for the petitions to be dismissed.

It was learned that the pre-hearing sessions would be heard by a five-member panel of the court led by Justice Tsammani.

Among motions the panel will hear includes a motion seeking an order to allow live coverage of proceedings of the court. 

Meanwhile, aside from the PDP and LP candidates, the Action Alliance, AA and the Allied Peoples Movement, APM, equally lodged petitions to invalidate the declaration of Tinubu as winner of the presidential election.

Whereas the petition, which AA filed alongside its candidate, Solomon Okanigbuan, was marked: CA/PEPC/01/2023, that of the APM was marked: CA/PEPC/04/2023.

AA told the court that its candidate, Okanigbuan, was validly nominated to contest the presidential election but was unlawfully excluded by INEC.

The party maintained that the presidential election was thus, "invalid for non-compliance with the provisions of the Electoral Act 2022, as amended".

It argued that Tinubu "was thus not validly elected as his election contravenes the Electoral Act, the 1999 Constitution and INEC Guidelines for the 2023 general elections".

The petitioners told the court that Major Hamza Al-Mustapha, who was cited as the 4th Respondent, was not a member of the AA and was not sponsored by the party, adding that he did not participate in its presidential primary election.

On its part, the APM, through its lawyer, Mr. O. M. Atoyebi, SAN, argued that the withdrawal of Mr. Ibrahim Masari who was initially nominated as the Vice-Presidential candidate of the APC, invalidated Tinubu's candidacy in view of Section 131(c) and 142 of the 1999 Constitution, as amended.

The party argued that there was a gap of about three weeks between the period that Masari who was listed as the 5th Respondent, expressed intention to withdraw and his actual withdrawal of his purported nomination, and the time Tinubu purportedly replaced  him with Shettima.

It argued that Tinubu's candidature had elapsed as at the time he nominated Shettima as Masari's replacement, "and he was no longer in a position constitutionally to nominate a running mate since he had ceased to be a presidential candidate of the 2nd Respondent having regards to the provisions of section 142 of the 1999 Constitution".

APM further contended that nomination of Masari activated the joint ticket principle enshrined in the Constitution, stressing that his subsequent withdrawal invalidated the said joint ticket.

It, therefore, prayed the court to declare that Shettima was not qualified to contest as the Vice-Presidential candidate of the APC as at February 25 when the election was conducted by INEC having violated the provisions the of Section 35 of the Electoral Act, 2022.

"An order nullifying and voiding all the votes scored by Tinubu in the presidential election in view of his non-qualification as a candidate of the APC".

Likewise, an order to set aside the Certificate of Return that was issued to Tinubu and to also issue an order declaring the candidate with the next highest number of votes as the winner of the presidential election.

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