On March 1, Nigeria’s electoral body, INEC, announced Bola Tinubu of the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) as Nigeria’s president-elect, and none of his co-contestants was happy.
The losers, Peter Obi and Atiku Abubakar
Just two days after the announcement, the duo filed two separate ex-parte applications to the Court of Appeal. Its purpose was to inspect the materials used by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) during the elections.
That way, if there was any manipulation or mago mago done to the election result figures, they can easily catch INEC red-handed.
On Wednesday, the Court of Appeal ruled against Obi and Atiku restraining the INEC from reconfiguring the BVAS due to preparations for the gubernatorial elections. Could this lead to the beginning of a post-election tribunal?
If it does, then it’s best to learn how this works. Let’s dive right in:
How are post-election tribunals set up?
Firstly, we must understand that election courts are not the same as regular courts. This is handled by specialised courts called election petition tribunal courts, which are usually run by the Court of Appeal.
The 2022 Electoral Act gives us the basic guidelines and principles of setting up a post-election tribunal under various sections:
- Section 130 (1) states that “No election and return at an election under this Act shall be questioned in any manner other than by a petition complaining of an undue election or undue return (in this Act referred to as an “election petition”) presented to the competent tribunal or court in accordance with the provisions of the Constitution or of this Act, and in which the person elected or returned is joined as a party.”
- Section 130 (3) (a) states that the Court of Appeal should set up the tribunal not later than 30 days before the election, with the register for tribunals opened seven days before the election.
Who can file for a post-election tribunal?
Sadly, only political candidates that participated in the election can file for a post-election tribunal. Patriotic citizens are not on the list.
What is the election tribunal timeframe?
An election petition must be presented and filed within 21 days of the declaration of the result.
Once a candidate fails to file his/her petition within 21 days, he/she loses the right of action. The petition would be declared null and void.
Also, the election petition must be heard and judgement delivered within 180 days from the date of the filing of the petition.
Is there more than one post-election tribunal?
Presidential candidates can decide to go to the Supreme Court if they are not satisfied with the judgement from the Court of Appeal.
However, if you’re a national or state assembly candidate, the Court of Appeal is your final bus stop. Once they give a ruling, it cannot be petitioned in a higher court.
With that being said, you can be sure to watch out for Citizen updates on the 2023 post-election drama. Stay tuned!