Victory All the Way for Tinubu at Presidential Election Petition Court

Victory All the Way for Tinubu at Presidential Election Petition Court

…Tinubu/Shettima Floor Atiku, Obi, APM Others It was a sweet-victory day for President Bola Ahmed Tinubu, Vice President Kashim Shettima and the All Progressives Congress at the Presidential Election Petitions Court on Wednesday as they won all the petitions filed against them on the outcome of the February 25, 2023 general elections. Victorious Bola Tinubu

…Tinubu/Shettima Floor Atiku, Obi, APM Others

It was a sweet-victory day for President Bola Ahmed Tinubu, Vice President Kashim Shettima and the All Progressives Congress at the Presidential Election Petitions Court on Wednesday as they won all the petitions filed against them on the outcome of the February 25, 2023 general elections.

Victorious Bola Tinubu

In what appeared a full day in Court the judges took on three petitions against President Tinubu and Vice President Kashim Shettima by the Allied Peoples Movement (APM), former Vice President Atiku Abubakar of the Peoples Democratic Party and Mr. Peter Obi of the Labour Party.

The entire process was novel. Nigeria had never witnessed a presidential election result being challenged by three political parties and two main candidates, both claiming victory in the election. These developments had heightened interest in the outcome and fueled anxieties on their possible outcome. However, no election tribunal in Nigeria had ever upturned the declared results of a presidential election.

Wednesday’s proceedings were witnessed by Vice President Kashim Shettima, several governors of both APC and PDP, Chairmen of the APC, PDP and the Labour Party. The main challengers, Alhaji Atiku Abubakar and Mr. Peter Obi were conspicuously absent from the Court room.

Presidential Election Petition Court in Session

The five Court of Appeal Judges that sat on all the petitions are Justice Haruna Simon Tsammani, Justice Stephen Adah.
Justice Mistura Bolaji-Yusuf, Justice Boloukuoromo Ugo, Justice Abba Mohammed Bello.

The judges took turns to read different sections of the judgements and knocked off points of law and arguments submitted by the challengers of President Tinubu citing the constitution or precedence of judgements from the Supreme Court.

The judgements would go down in history as the longest in the history of Nigeria. At commencement. it was filled to the brim but was less than half-full by the time the final petition was being ruled upon. Apart from a fifteen minute break in-between, the Court sat continuously for more than twelve hours.

The summary of it all is that the Court found the petitions as lacking in merit and dismissed them accordingly. The lead judgemnet was read by Justice Tsananmi and was concurred to by the other four judges with additional emphasis on some points of law. The Court therefore affirmed the victory of President Bola Ahmed Tinubu as declared by INEC and ruled that he fulfilled all the constitutional requirements to be so declared. So, it was victory all the way for President Tinubu.

Court Strikes Out APM Case

In one hour and fourty- six minutes, the Presidential Election Petitions Court (PEPC) struck out the petition filed by the Allied Peoples Movement challenging the declaration of President Bola Ahmed Tinubu as the winner of the 25 February 2023 Presidential election.

In what the Presiding Judge, Justice Haruna Tsammani described as “contributory judgement”, the court held that the petition “is devoid of any merit”.

The presidential election petition Court consequently struck out the petition of the Allied Peoples Movement for lack of merit and abuse of the Court process.

The court after considering the grounds of the petition which dwelled on the alleged invalid nomination of Senator Kassim Shettima as the vice president said PEPC lacks the jurisdiction to consider the matter as it was a pre-election matter which the petitioner ought to have ventilated at the Federal High court.

The court further stated that the process of qualification of any candidate for an election is stipulated in the constitution, particularly in section 131(1) and therefore said the petition before it by the APM is incompetent.

All other reliefs sought by the petitioner were dismissed. Considering the evidence placed before the court, Justice Tsanami ruled that the entire grounds centred on the issue of alleged invalid nomination of the Sen. Kassim Shettima and after considering all the paragraphs of the petition and the reply by the respondents, what appeared is that being a serving Senator of Borno central senatorial district his nomination then as vice president amounted to a double nomination.

But, qualification or non-qualification of a candidate is clearly stated in the constitution and this has been decided upon severally by the Supreme Court. There is no other law that can contradict the Constitution.

The petitioner from the oral and documentary evidence failed to establish any concrete reasons why the court should grant his prayers. Also, on the allegation of APC not conducting any primary election to nominate the Vice president, the petitioner erred as it is within the constitutional power of the president to nominate his running mate and the position of the petitioner is therefore discountenanced.

Having resolved all the issues against the petitioner, the petition is devoid of any merit. The court held that the issue of qualification and disqualification is a pre – election which ought to have been ventilated at the Federal High Court. The judgement said: “the petition on ground of double nomination or multiple nomination have no ground”.

The Judgement Against Peter Obi and Labour Party

The PEPC or PEPT has ruled that pleadings of Labour Party which alleged electoral malpractices and non-compliance did not meet the requirements of pleadings. Justice Aba Mohammed Bello who read the judgement therefore, ruled them to be generic, nebulous and not tied to specific places, facts and polling units.

“It is unimaginable that a petitioner will allege widespread rigging in 176,000 Polling units, over 8,000 wards, 774 LGAs, 36 States and FCT without stating the specific place where the alleged irregularities occur”

Justice Bello just stated that polling units where rigging took place were not mentioned by the Petitioners. That the petitioners did not present any sheet or forensic document to show the states listed in certain paragraphs on rigged polling units.

On the Disqualification of Tinubu on Alleged Conviction in the United States
The Court ruled that the case relied on by Labour Party on the forfeiture of $460,000 in the United States is a civil forfeiture and not criminal within the contemplation of section 137 of the Nigerian Constitution which mentions “sentence”, “imprisonment”. The petition failed to prove that Bola Ahmed Tinubu was charged, tried or convicted in the United States.

“Therefore, the LP’s petition that Bola Tinubu committed a crime in the US is incompetent and hereby struck out. Bola Tinubu committed no crime in the US and was never convicted or fined for any offence or criminal activity. This Court admits that Bola Tinubu is qualified to run for elections in 2023.”

On the tendering of Tinubu’s academic record from the Chicago State University and the US embassy letter to the Nigerian police clearing Mr Tinubu of any criminal record in the US, the court dismisses Mr Obi’s objections to the admissibility of the documents. The Court ruled the petition did not challenge education qualification of Tinubu and so the document tendered in that regard is not relevant.

On the issue of 18,088 blurred polling unit results the PEPT ruled that the Labour Party failed to produce the polling units which were uploaded as blurred on IREV therefore, their evidence is inadmissible. The Court further ruled that LP was aware of the polling units which blurred results were uploaded on IREV and their claim is impossible because their agents were there.

It further ruled that the petitioner failed to establish that INEC deliberately failed to uphold results in order to manipulate results in favour of the APC.

The court dismissed the second issue of non-transmission of result sheets to IReV. The court held that there is no law that says INEC must mandatorily transfer or transmit the results of the election from the polling units electronically. It concluded that the law empowers INEC to decide the means of collation of the results of elections in Nigeria.

The Court upheld respondents’ objection to the admissibility of evidence tendered by Mr Obi’s web engineer, Mpeh Ogar, regarding a technical glitch observed on INEC Results Viewing portal on the election day. The judge held that Ms Ogar was an interested party in the petition having vied for elective office at the polls on the platform of the Labour

The court also rejected the European Union report on the 25 February presidential election on the grounds that they were not tendered by an official of the body which is the author and has the custody of the document.

Court Dismissed Labour Party’s 25% FCT Votes

The fourth and last issue to be resolved is the issue of 25 per cent of votes in the FCT with regard to section 134(2) of the Nigerian constitution. This is about the most contentious issues stressed in Mr Obi’s petition.

The court, in interpreting the constitution, must give consideration to the principle of the constitution rather than literal or direct interpretation of the provision, Justice Tsammani submitted.

The argument of Labour Party’s lawyers that the 2nd Respondent ought not to be declared winner of the election because he scored less than 25 per cent votes in the FCT is “fallacious and incredibly ridiculous.” A broad interpretation of the Constitution should prevail.

A candidate wins in a presidential election where he scored 25 percent in 37 states, FCT inclusive even if he does not score 25 percent in FCT.

The Court ruled that the use of “and” doesn’t imply anything special as submitted by Peter Obi of the Labour Party. The court further adds that section 134 (2) A & B of the constitution only refers to the FCT as one of the 36 States of the federation.

All issues resolved against the petitioners in Obi’s case. Petition dismissed for lack of merit.

Where Peter Obi Won

The Presidential Election Petitions Tribunal (PEPT) however, dismissed a petition filed by the All Progressives Congress (APC) challenging the membership of Peter Obi, the presidential candidate of the Labour Party (LP), in the party.

The APC had argued that Obi was not a valid member of the LP at the time of the election, as he had not been a member of the party for at least 30 days before the party’s presidential primary.

However, the PEPT ruled that the APC’s petition was incompetent.

How Court Ruled Against Atiku Abubakar

Justice Moses Ugo read judgement on Atiku’s petition

The court struck out the evidence of Oduntan, a statistician called by Atiku, for his name not having been filed along with the petition

Issue of dual citizenship and forgeries are not permissible in the reply of the petitioners and thereby struck out. Evidence of most of the witnesses of Atiku were all struck out because they were not frontloaded

Justice Ugo highlighted gaps in Atiku Abubakar’s petition, saying the petition is filled with nebulous and generic allegations. He buttressed this saying that the petition failed to specify particular polling units where the malpractices took place.

He also identified non-joinder of necessary parties, such as Governor Yahaya Bello of Kogi State who was accused of malpractices during the election in his state.

According to the Court, evidence of most of the witnesses of Atiku struck because they were not frontloaded. The court referenced a law book that Atiku’s lawyer, Chris Uche, wrote the forward in ruling against Atiku and PDP on failure to frontload witness statement with election petition.

The tribunal struck out all documents, reports, and other documents tendered by all the witnesses whose witness statements were earlier struck out.

The court is considering objection on proper certification of documents tendered by the Petitioners. INEC did not discharge the burden that the amount paid does not cover all the documents certified.

Petitioners’ documents produced during the pendency of an action are inadmissible. The reports admitted earlier by the court are inadmissible by section 83(3) of Evidence Act.

The Judge noted that Atiku and PDP did not call polling agents but collation agents whose evidence are hearsay such agents cannot validly testify on polling units levels but only rely on what they were told.

The Court ruled that non calling of evidence is fatal to the case of PDP and Atiku Abubakar.

The petition of Alhaji Atiku Abubakar was therefore, dismissed for lacking in merit and being incompetent.

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  • Oladele Ogunsola
    September 7, 2023, 8:07 am

    This is very detailed report. The court literarily taken to reader’s bedroom. Kudos! I salute the Judges as well for their painstaking delivery. Well detailed, devoid of any form of ambiguity. Congratulations to PBAT and his Vice, the APC and the generality of Nigerians. Distraction is over now and I hope the petitioners will join hands with the President to pilot the nation’s ship to a safe harbour?


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