PEPC to Deliver Judgement on President Tinubu’s Election Validity
PEPC to Deliver Verdict on President Tinubu's Win
The eagerly awaited judgement of the Presidential Election Petition Court (PEPC) in Abuja on the three petitions seeking to nullify the election of President Bola Tinubu is about to be delivered. As a precursor to fixing the judgement date, Justice Haruna Tsammani, leading a five-member panel, has directed all parties involved to appear before the court tomorrow to adopt their final briefs of argument.
The court, in a notice sent to the concerned parties, invited them to adopt their written addresses regarding the petitions lodged against President Tinubu by the former Vice President and candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Alhaji Atiku, as well as the one filed by the candidate of the Labour Party (LP), Mr. Peter Obi.
Recall that on March 1, the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) announced President Tinubu of the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) as the winner of the presidential election held on February 25, defeating 17 other candidates. President Tinubu secured a total of 8,794,726 votes, while Alhaji Atiku of the PDP came second with 6,984,520 votes, and Mr. Obi of the LP came third with 6,101,533 votes.
Dissatisfied with the outcome of the election, both Atiku and Obi approached the court to challenge the validity of the election. In their separate petitions, they claimed victory in the presidential poll and questioned President Tinubu’s eligibility to contest. The petitioners seek the court to declare that President Tinubu did not secure the majority of lawful votes cast and are also seeking the withdrawal of the Certificate of Return issued to him by INEC.
Alternatively, they are praying the court to order a fresh presidential election, excluding President Tinubu, whom they argue was not qualified to participate in the poll.
The Electoral Act 2022 requires candidates aggrieved by the election outcome to file a petition within 21 days after INEC announces the results. The court, in turn, is mandated to deliver its judgement in writing within 180 days. The hearing of both Atiku and Obi’s petitions concluded on July 5.
Obi closed his case after calling 13 witnesses who testified and tendered several documentary exhibits, while Atiku produced 27 witnesses and submitted exhibits before the court. On the other hand, both INEC and President Tinubu wrapped up their defense with one witness each, while the APC did not produce any witness before the court.
All the respondents, including President Tinubu, have urged the court to dismiss the petitions for lack of merit. They argue that the petitioners failed to provide sufficient evidence to support their claims, particularly the allegations that involved elements of crime.
Atiku’s joint petition with the PDP (marked: CA/PEPC/05/2023) argues that Tinubu’s declaration as the winner of the presidential election was invalid due to non-compliance with the provisions of the Electoral Act 2022. Atiku also alleges inconsistencies in Tinubu’s personal information, including date of birth, education, and citizenship.
Obi and the LP’s petition (marked: CA/PEPC/03/2023) questions Tinubu’s eligibility and allege that he was previously indicted and fined in a United States District Court for an offense involving dishonesty and drug trafficking. They further claim that INEC acted in breach of its own regulations and guidelines during the conduct of the presidential poll.