BREAKING: Tribunal: Lawyers To Aggrieved Petitioners: ‘Approach Supreme Court If Not Satisfied With Judgment’

A Senior Advocate of Nigeria (SAN), Chief Solo Akuma, has asked aggrieved petitioners who are not satisfied with the judgment of the Presidential Election Petition Court (PEPC), Abuja, to approach the Supreme Court, to further ventilate their dissatisfaction with the declaration of President Bola Ahmed Tinubu as President, by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC).

Speaking while commenting on the judgment delivered by the PEPC, dismissing the petitions filed by Peter Obi of the Labour Party (LP), Alhaji Atiku Abubakar of the People’s Democratic Party (PDP), and the Allied Peoples Movement, Chief Akuma, said the Election Petition Tribunal is the court of first trial….CONTINUE READING

According to the SAN, “There is still an opportunity to ventilate whatever a dissatisfied party feels was not properly addressed by the Tribunal at the Supreme Court”.

On his part, another senior lawyer, Dr Yemi Omodele, posited that from the judgment read live, the petitioners had only succeeded in placing something upon nothing that could not stand.

In his words: “If you listen to the judgment delivered, you will discover that the justices painstakingly analyzed and dealt with all the issues raised and formulated by the parties.

“So, it suffices to say that all the nooks and crannies of the petitions were dealt with by the Tribunal. I salute their courage to have done such excellent work.

“It took them several hours before the judgment could be delivered, and it also took them days before the judgment could be collated and finally read.

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“It is a good development. But if the petitioners are so aggrieved, or they are not comfortable with the judgment, they can exercise their right of appeal so that the higher court can look at it and also take a decision”.

Dr Omodele also expressed the surprise that the petitioners approached the Tribunal without being able to substantiate their claims, adding that the court is not ‘A Father Christmas’.

In dismissing as incompetent, the case of the Allied Peoples Movement (APM), seeking to nullify President Tinubu’s election, the PEPC, presided over by Justice Haruna Tsammani declared that issues raised by the APM in its petition contained pre-election matters that could only be determined by the Federal High Court.

Reading the lead judgment, Justice Tsammani upheld the preliminary objections that all the respondents raised to challenge the competence of the petition.

Justice Tsammani noted that since the petition centred on the qualification or otherwise of President Tinubu to contest the presidential election that was held on February 25, the APM ought to have gone to court within 14 days after Tinubu was nominated by the All Progressives Congress (APC).

The Tribunal’s chairman, who explained that since the cause of action bordered on a pre-election matter, said the APM lacked the locus standi to challenge Tinubu’s nomination.

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Furthermore, Justice Tsammani held 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.

The judge insisted that Sections 131 and 237 of the 1999 Constitution, as amended, made provisions for the qualification or disqualification of candidates in an election.

The court noted that the main grouse of the APM was on the alleged invalid nomination of Tinubu’s running mate, Kashim Shettima.

In the words of Justice Tsammani, “It is clear that the claim of non-qualification of the 3rd respondent (Tinubu) centred on the alleged invalid nomination of the 4th respondent (Shettima). It is a pre-election matter”.

Justice Tsammani pronounced that Section 84(3) of the Electoral Act, 2022, stipulated that political parties should not impose qualification criteria on a candidate, except as provided for in the constitution.

According to the PEPC, Sections 65, 66, 106, 107, 131, 137, 185, and 187 of the 1999 Constitution, as amended, settled the issue of qualification and nomination of a candidate for an election.

It held that where an election has already been conducted, and the result declared, the qualification of a candidate could no longer be challenged based on 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.

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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.

The PEPC declared that the issue of double nomination, as canvassed by the APM, was not a legally cognizable ground for disqualification.

Besides, the court held that it found no reason why Mr Ibrahim Masari was cited as the 5th respondent in the petition since he would not in any way be affected by the outcome of the case.

Consequently, it struck out his name from the petition.

Recall that the APM had in its petition designated CA/PEPC/04/2023, argued that the withdrawal of Mr Masari who was initially nominated as the Vice-Presidential candidate of the APC, invalidated Tinubu’s candidacy given Section 131(c) and 142 of the 1999 Constitution (as amended).

The Tribunal, while dismissing the petition filed by Peter Obi and his party, said they failed to provide credible evidence to prove their allegations that the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) did not substantially comply with the Electoral Act in the conduct of the election and the poll was marred by corrupt practices, including over-voting.

As of the time of filing this report, the Tribunal had already struck out some aspects of the petition filed by Atiku Abubakar and the PDP….CONTINUE READING