The Presidential Election Petition Court, PEPC, in a landmark decision, yesterday, dismissed the petitions of the Labour Party, Peoples Democratic Party, PDP and the Allied Peoples Movement, APM, and their candidates against the election of President Bola Tinubu.
The five-man panel, led by Justice Haruna Tsammani, dismissed the petition of Mr Peter Obi of LP seeking to nullify Tinubu’s election.
It also dismissed APM’s petition seeking to disqualify the president over the invalid nomination of his running mate, Senate Kashim Shettima in a bulky judgement delivered in Abuja yesterday.
From the bulky judgement, the following are the summary of what you need to know for posterity sake.
INEC can’t be forced to transmit election results electronically
On the issue of INEC failing to transmit the presidential election results electronically real time on its result viewing portal, the tribunal said that the INEC was not mandated to send election results electronically.
Tsammani said: “There is no provision for the electronic transmission of election results in the Electoral Act 2022.” And that, INEC is at liberty to define the mode it intends to use stating Section 52 and Section 65 of the Electoral Act.
Obi’s petition dismissed
The PEPC, dismissed the allegation of the Labour Party, LP, and its candidate, Mr. Peter Obi, that the 2023 presidential election was rigged in favour of President Bola Tinubu.
The court held that Obi and the LP did not by way of credible evidence, establish their allegation that the February 25 election was characterized by manifest corrupt practices, saying they failed to give specific details of where the alleged infractions took place.
On Allegation of Victitious Results Recorded for Tinubu
It further held that Obi’s allegation that fictitious results were recorded for President Tinubu and the APC, by the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, was not proved. It held that the
- petitioners were unable to state the figures they claimed were reduced from election results they garnered, especially in Ondo, Oyo, Rivers, Yobe, Borno, Tabara, Osun and Lagos state.
- Petitioners equally failed to state the polling units where over-voting occurred or the exact figures of unlawful votes that were credited to Tinubu by the INEC.
- Obi and LP relied on spreadsheets as well as forensic reports and expert analysis of their expert witnesses, they failed to attach the documents to the petition or serve the same on the Respondents as required by the law.
Petitioner failed to give particulars of specific polling units where serious allegations that bordered on violence, non-voting, suppression of votes, fictitious entry of election results and corrupt practices happened saying the several portions of the petition that contained the allegations, were “vague, imprecise, nebulous and bereft of particular materials.”
Therefore, the court struck out paragraphs 9, 60, 61, 66, 67, 68, 69, 70, 71, 72, 73, 76, 77, 78, 83 and 89 of the petition.
No evidence Tinubu was convicted in the US over drug trafficking
The PEPC also dismissed the allegation that President Tinubu was convicted in the United States of America, USA, on a drug trafficking-related charge.
The court held that evidence before it established that the $460, 000 fine that was imposed on Tinubu in the US, was a civil matter. It held that such a fine did not translate to a criminal conviction that was capable of warranting Tinubu’s disqualification from contesting the presidential election that was held on February 25, saying, the case that led to the fine that was awarded against President Tinubu, “was in the civil docket” of the court in the US.
The court then held that Obi and the LP failed to show that Tinubu was indicted, arraigned, tried or convicted for any criminal offence in the USA. It sealed this with a letter the Inspector General of Police wrote in 2003, after which the American Embassy, confirmed that there was no criminal record against Tinubu in its centralized information center.
On 25% votes, Abuja not special than other states
The PEPT also held that scoring 25 percent of votes in the Federal Capital Territory, FCT, Abuja was not compulsory for one to be declared winner because FCT has no special status over the other 36 states of the federation.
Peter Obi wan about 59 percent of the votes cast in the FCT, President Tinubu got 19 per cent and Atiku Abubakar scored 15 per cent.
Speaking on the requirement claims by the LP and Obi, the panel said that FCT residents have no special privileges as the petitioners claimed.
The tribunal said the petitioners’ interpretation of Section 134(2)(b) of the 1999 constitution is “completely fallacious, if not outright ridiculous.”
APM’s petition against Tinubu incompetent
The panel in its first ruling dismissed as incompetent, the case the Allied Peoples Movement, APM, filed to nullify President Tinubu’s election.
The court held that the issues the APM raised in its petition contained pre-election matters that could only be determined by the Federal High Court.
He held that since the cause of action bordered on a pre-election matter, the APM, lacked the locus standi to challenge Tinubu’s nomination stating that the Supreme Court had earlier decided that a political party does not have the right to challenge a nomination that was made by another political party.
It held that where an election had already been conducted and the result declared, the qualification of a candidate could no longer be challenged on the basis of sections 131 and 137 of the Constitution. The court held that since the APM failed to challenge President Tinubu’s nomination within the constitutionally allowed period, its case, therefore, had become statute-barred.
It held that where the constitution has qualified a candidate for an election, no other law can disqualify such a candidate except the constitution itself.