Saturday Vanguard examined the five lawsuits filed at the Presidential Election Petition Tribunal in Abuja against Bola Ahmed Tinubu to prevent him from becoming the president of Nigeria. They criticize the tribunal’s composition and the level of trust top lawyers have in the panel members. The report argues that although past legal efforts to invalidate previous presidential election results declared by INEC have never yielded positive results, the peculiar case facts in the instant case and the concomitant laws on them might yield a surprise.
Two presidential candidates of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and the Labour Party (LP), Alhaji Atiku Abubakar and Mr Peter Obi respectively, vow to invalidate the electoral victory of Senator Bola Ahmed Tinubu of the All Progressives Congress (APC) in the last February 25, 2023, presidential election and truncate his life ambition to rule Nigeria. Although they are working separately in the law court to achieve the objective, they are also individually inviting the Presidential Election Petition Court (PEPC) to declare them winners of the February 25 presidential poll or, in the alternative, order a fresh election in which Tinubu and his vice should be barred from participating.
The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) had declared Senator Tinubu the winner of the February 25, 2023, presidential poll on the grounds that his party—the All Progressives Congress (APC)—scored the majority of votes cast at the poll. In the results announced on March 1, 2023, Tinubu polled 8,794,726 votes to emerge victorious.
Under the electoral law, political parties and their candidates have within 21 days of INEC announcing the results to file their petition at the registry of the Appeal Court. The aggrieved parties who met the deadline include the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) with its presidential candidate, Atiku Abubakar, and the Labour Party, with its candidate, Peter Obi.
The President of the Court of Appeal, Justice Monica Dongban-Mensem, who is from Plateau state (North Central), set up a five-member panel of the court to hear all the petitions challenging Tinubu’s victory in the last presidential election. The Presidential Election Petition Tribunal members were drawn from five geopolitical zones of the country with the exclusion of the South East.
Two of the aggrieved political parties withdrew their petitions at the tribunal in less than one week after the panel began sitting. The affected political parties were the Action Peoples Party (APP) and the Action Alliance, while the remaining three others vowed to proceed with their separate cases against the President-Elect, Bola Tinubu.
Atiku, in his petition, invites the tribunal to invalidate Tinubu’s election on the ground of non-compliance with the provisions of the Electoral Act, 2022 in conducting the poll. The petitioner’s case is that for any of the candidates in the February 25 poll to be declared the winner, he or she must comply with the provisions of the Electoral Act, 2022.