Tribunal: APC, Tinubu oppose moves to merge Atiku, Obi’s petitions

THE All Progressives Congress (APC) and the President-elect, Bola Tinubu, have rejected plans by the Presidential Election Petition Court to merge three petitions challenging the result of the February 25 presidential election.

The petitions are those filed the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and it’s presidential candidate Atiku Abubakar, the Labour Party (LP) and it’s candidate Peter Obi, and the Allied Peoples Movement (APM).

Citing paragraph 50 of the 1st Schedule of the Electoral Act, the tribunal led by Haruna Tsammani, had announced on Saturday, May 20, that all the petitions against Tinubu’s election will be merged for easy adjudication.

The tribunal subsequently directed all the counsels to consult with their clients and report the outcome on Monday, May 22.

During the resumed sitting on Monday, counsel for the APC, Charles Edosomwam, a Senior Advocate of Nigeria (SAN), argued that consolidating the petitions would go against the interest of justice.

Edosomwan noted that the grounds and issues raised by the parties were different, adding that consolidating them would result in major issues being lost.

He also noted that it would be practically impossible for the respondent to effectively defend the case, adding that justice should not be sacrificed for convenience.

“Major issues before this court will be lost like a pin in a haystack. if the consolidation is considered,” he said.

“Moreover, it will be pragmatically impossible for the respondent to effectively defend the case. It is our position that the issue of justice cannot be sacrificed at the altar of convenience.”

Similarly, Tinubu’s legal team, led by Akin Olujinmi, SAN, argued that consolidating all the petitions would hinder their ability to defend the issues raised against the President-elect.

Olujinmi further argued that the provision of the Electoral Act referred to by the court was not absolute, and the exercise of power should be subject to limitations.

He pointed out that there were varying issues and evidential matters in each petition, making it difficult to consent to consolidation.

“The issue of justice should be a restraint on the power of this court to exercise its discretion in granting the order for consolidation,” he said.

“My lords, when the exercise of power is subject to the limitation of some conditions, then it cannot be said that the exercise is mandatory.”

“There are issues raised in one petition that are not there in others. The issues vary. The same goes for evidential issues that are based on pleadings that have been exchanged by parties in this case.”

“We want to make it clear at this stage that it will be absolutely difficult for us to consent to consolidation of the petitions.”

In contrast, the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) stated that it would defer to the court’s discretion regarding the consolidation issue.

INEC had declared Tinubu as the winner of the February 25 presidential election.

According to INEC, Tinubu secured 8,794,726 votes, the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) candidate, Atiku Abubakar had 6,984,520, while the Labour Party (PDP) presidential candidate, Peter Obi, polled 6,101,533.

The PDP and LP candidate rejected the result and approached the tribunal with separate petitions to challenge Tinubu’s victory.

They alleged that Tinubu was not qualified to contest the election and that he failed to secure the majority of lawful votes cast at the poll.

They are also contesting that Tinubu’s running mate, Kashim Shettima, had a double nomination contrary to the Electoral Act.

In addition to Atiku and Obi’s petitions, the Allied Peoples Movement (APM) is also asking the court to nullify Tinubu’s election.






     

     

    The party argued that the withdrawal of Ibrahim Masari as the initially nominated Vice-Presidential candidate of the APC invalidated Tinubu’s candidacy under Section 131(c) and 142 of the 1999 Constitution, as amended.

    The party contended that there was a three-week gap between Masari’s expressed intention to withdraw, the actual withdrawal of his nomination, and Tinubu’s replacement of him with Shettima.

    The APM further claimed that Tinubu’s nomination had expired when he nominated Shettima as Masari’s replacement.

    Although initially five petitions were filed challenging Tinubu’s victory, The ICIR reported that two of the petitioners, the Action Alliance (AA) and the Action Peoples Party (APP), withdrew their cases during the ongoing pre-hearing sitting of the tribunal.

    You can reach out to me on Twitter via: vincent_ufuoma

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