THE Presidential Election Petition Court (PEPC) on Wednesday, September 6, affirmed President Bola Tinubu’s victory as the February 25 presidential election winner.
Tinubu, who contested under the All Progressives Congress (APC), defeated his main contestants, Atiku Abubakar of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and Peter Obi of the Labour Party (LP), to emerge victorious.
Both Obi, Atiku and the Allied Peoples Movement (APM) disagreed with the result declared by INEC and challenged Tinubu’s victory in court.
After months of rigorous hearing, the court on Wednesday, September 6, affirmed Tinubu as the duly elected president of Nigeria.
Delivering judgment on the matter, the court said Obi’s case lacked merit.
The court ruled that INEC could not be obliged to send election results to its IREV electronically after rejecting Obi and the LP’s claims of significant non-compliance with Electoral Act requirements.
The court determined that the LP and Obi’s claims of numerous anomalies, voter suppression, and corrupt practices lacked adequate evidence and were unpersuasive.
The judges threw away ten witnesses’ statements presented by LP and described them as inadmissible.
Regarding Obi’s case concerning Tinubu’s forfeiture of $460,000 to the United States government, the tribunal said it was a civil matter, not a criminal one.
The court also pointed out that the LP had not shown proof of Tinubu’s arrest, trial, penalties, or punishment for any crimes.
According to the PEPC, the allegations are not enough to invalidate the entire result of the poll.
On the controversial issue of 25 per cent in FCT, the court declared that no candidate needed to secure 25 per cent in FCT to be declared winner.
Additionally, it determined that President Tinubu was intellectually qualified to run for president, noting that deciding to disqualify him based only on his academic credentials was insufficient.
In Atiku’s case, the court determined that Atiku had not sufficiently shown that he received the majority of valid votes in his case.
The panel stated in the lead ruling, which Moses Ugo read, that PDP had neglected to specify the affected polling units, the locations where the ballot boxes were allegedly stolen, and the methods used to manipulate the BVAS machines.
The panel’s chair, Tsammani, also stated that the PDP’s claims of violence and vote box snatching lacked supporting videos and documentation, adding that these claims were criminal and required proof beyond a reasonable doubt.
In the APM case, bothering the double nomination against Shettima, the PEPC struck it out and described it as incompetent.
Options before Atiku, Obi and APM
Nigerian law permits parties who feel wronged by the PEPC’s decision to appeal the ruling to a higher court, in this case, the Supreme Court.
The aggrieved parties have 14 days to file their appeals at the Supreme Court.
The Supreme Court is also expected to announce its ruling within 60 days of receiving the petitioner’s appeal.
As displeased parties head for the Supreme Court, The ICIR in March 2023 profiled the current 13 justices of the Supreme Court, including some of the recent cases they handled and accompanying public opinions that greeted their outcomes.
Timeline for determining election petition
At the Tribunal level (Appeal Court in case of a presidential election) – 180 Days (six months)
At the Appeal level (Supreme Court in case of presidential election) – 60 days (two months)
In total- 240 days (eight months)
In case of a presidential election, five Justices of the Appeal Court will determine the petition, while seven Justices will sit to decide the appeal at the apex court.
History of previous Supreme Court judgements on presidential election disputes
It must be noted that the Supreme Court has never ruled against the result of any presidential election in Nigeria. Therefore, Atiku and Obi will seek a groundbreaking ruling against Tinubu.
Obasanjo vs Olu Falae in 1999
President Olusegun Obasanjo’s primary opponent in 1999, Olu Falae of the Alliance of Democracy (AD), lost his appeal against the election results.
The Court of Appeal rejected his application based on technicalities.
Obasanjo vs. Buhari in 2003
The All Nigeria People’s Party’s (ANPP) Muhammadu Buhari unsuccessfully appealed to the Supreme Court to contest Obasanjo’s victory in the election.
When Buhari appealed, the Supreme Court upheld the tribunal’s decision and insisted Obasanjo won the election.
Buhari, Atiku challenged Musa Yar’Adua in 2007
Buhari and Atiku contested Umaru Yar’Adua’s victory in the 2007 presidential election.
The electoral tribunal panel upheld Yar’adua’s victory, but the contenders appealed to the Supreme Court, which upheld Yar’Adua’s victory.
Buhari took Jonathan to the Supreme Court in 2011
The Supreme Court validated Goodluck Jonathan’s victory over Buhari of the Congress for Progressive Change (CPC) and Nuhu Ribadu of the Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN) in the 2011 presidential election.
In 2015, Jonathan refused to challenge Buhari’s victory
Meanwhile, Goodluck Jonathan and other candidates accepted the election results and did not challenge the election result in 2015.
Atiku challenged Buhari in 2019
Atiku contested the presidential election result against Buhari in 2019.
Atiku’s petition was denied by the electoral petition tribunal and the Supreme Court, which affirmed Buhari’s victory.
Obi and Atiku vow to challenge PEPC judgement.
The PEPC has given its verdict on the petitions brought by Atiku, Obi and the APM against the victory of President Tinubu in the February 25 election, but both of them have rejected the outcome announced by the court and have vowed to approach the Supreme Court. It is left to be seen how events will shape up at the apex court.
INEC, through its chairman, Yakubu, had declared Bola Tinubu of the ruling APC as the winner of the 2023 presidential election, with 8,794,726 votes.
Atiku of the PDP came second with 6,984,520 votes, while Obi of the LP took third place with 6,101,533 votes.