The presidential election may be done. But the outcome is far from concluded — going by the latest petitions filed at the Presidential Election Petitions Tribunal in Abuja.
In separate suits, four presidential candidates approached the tribunal on March 21, 2023, to nullify INEC’s declaration of the All Progressives Congress (APC) candidate, Bola Ahmed Tinubu (BAT), as the winner of the presidential election.
In law, a person who presents a petition to a court is known as a petitioner. The person against whom the petition is filed is known as the respondent. The four petitioners in this suit are Atiku Abubakar and the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP); Peter Obi and the Labour Party (LP); Solomon Okangbuan of Action Alliance (AA); and Chichi Ojei of the Allied People’s Movement (APM).
Here’s what we know about the petitions.
The AA’s petition called on the tribunal to void the election. It claimed its candidate, Hamza Al-Mustapha, was excluded by INEC.
The APM petitioned that BAT, at the time of the election, was not qualified to contest the election under the provisions of sections 131(c) and 142 of the Constitution and section 35 of the Electoral Act 2022.
Section 131 of the Constitution deals with qualifications for the president’s office. Section 142 covers the nomination of the vice president. For Section 35 of the Electoral Act, it covers the invalidity of multiple nominations. The APM claims that Shettima’s nomination as running mate is invalid because he was already nominated for a senatorial seat.
The LP spokesperson Yunusa Tanko describing its petition, said, “We are challenging the qualifications of the candidate that was declared the winner. We are also challenging the processes that led to his declaration as the winner, among others.”
The LP’s 99-page petition asked the tribunal to grant it relief based on the following prayers, (prayers are what the petitioner wants the court to give them at the end of the case), the summary of which is:
- BAT and his vice, Kashim Shettima, were not qualified to contest the election. The bases of this claim include BAT’s alleged links to narcotics. It also challenges Shettima’s running mate nomination while being the Borno Central constituency’s senatorial candidate.
- Following the first prayer, the second respondent, BAT, received “wasted votes” because he wasn’t qualified to contest;
- After removing these wasted votes, Obi scored a majority of votes and met the criteria of 25% of votes in two-thirds of the states in the federation and the Federal Capital Territory. According to INEC, Obi came third with 6,101,533 votes;
- Because BAT didn’t get 25% of votes in the FCT, he shouldn’t have been declared the winner;
- Alternatively, the court should disqualify BAT and order fresh elections in which BAT and Shettima will not participate;
- The certificate of return issued to BAT by INEC is null and void, and Obi should be declared the winner.
The LP’s suit also claimed overvoting in ten states and faulted INEC for not uploading results directly from the polling units to IReV, which it claims contravenes the Electoral Act 2022.
Depending on where you stand, the petition is either very solid — as Obi supporters claim—
—or easily dismantled, as BAT supporters would argue. Either way, the presidential election tribunal has a busy few weeks ahead.
PDP’s petition listed INEC, Tinubu and APC as respondents. Essentially, the PDP is also asking the court to nullify BAT’s victory.
Atiku, through his team of lawyers led by Mr Joe Kyari Gadzama, SAN, further argued that Tinubu’s election was invalid because of corrupt practices. Atiku applied for the withdrawal of the Certificate of Return issued to Tinubu by INEC because it was “invalid by reason of non-compliance with the provisions of the Electoral Act, 2022”.
According to INEC, Atiku Abubakar came second, polling 6,984,520 votes. A date is yet to be set for when the petitions will be heard.
How has the APC reacted?
In a series of tweets this morning, the official spokesperson for the APC Campaign Council, Festus Keyamo, said the issues raised in the petitions will be “busted by law lords.”
We will update you on how this plays out in the coming days. Meanwhile, follow us on our WhatsApp channel below to stay informed about happenings within Nigeria’s political space.