The Presidential Election Petition Court (PEPC) sitting in Abuja on Wednesday September 6, dismissed all petitions against the election of President Bola Tinubu and his vice, Kashim Shettima, for lack of merit.
All the issues pleaded by the petitioners were dismissed and verdict held in favour of Tinubu.
The court held that the pleadings of the petitioners were deficient.
The judgement lasted over 12 hours. It ended after 9p.m.
In dismissing Atiku Abubakar’s case, the election petition court held that his petition was filled with nebulous and generic allegations. The court cited paragraphs in Atiku’s petition that are “imprecise and vague.”
Also, the court said Peter Obi/LP petition only made “generic accusations of irregularities” in the election but failed to specify the anomaly, the places where it occurred and those affected.
The court held that the petitioners failed to prove that they won the majority of votes cast in the presidential election.
The justices stated that the law did not permit petitioners to engage in fishing expedition for evidence. “Were they expecting the court to go and gather evidence on the streets?” Mistura Bolaji-Yusuf asked.
The court declared that President Tinubu was qualified to contest election and validly elected on February 25, 2023.
The court held that non-securing of 25% votes in FCT cannot disqualify a candidate from becoming the president.
In his lead judgement, Justice Haruna Tsammani held that Atiku and Obi failed to substantiate allegations of fraud and drug allegations against Tinubu.
The court also declared that the February 25, 2023 presidential election substantially complied with the law. It said the petitioners failed to prove otherwise.
The five-member court dismissed all the petitions of the Labour Party (LP) and its presidential candidate, Peter Obi; the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Atiku Abubakar; and the Allied Peoples Movement (APM).
The judgement was delivered by the chairman of the tribunal, Justice Tsammani. Other members of the panel are: Justices Stephen Adah, Mistura Bolaji-Yusuf, Moses Ugo, and Abba Mohammed.
In Obi’s petition, the court described the allegation of election irregularities as mere generic without substance.
The petitioners (LP and Obi) had prayed the court to nullify Tinubu’s election on the ground that there was $460,000 forfeiture order against him by a United States District Court, Illinois.
The judge stated that the petitioners failed to prove that Tinubu was found guilty of any offence involving any act of criminality.
Justice Tsammani ruled that the evidence before the court showed that the forfeiture order against Tinubu was in a civil matter and not criminal matter, adding that there was no evidence to show that the president was either arraigned or convicted in the U.S. over any alleged crime to warrant his disqualification.
The tribunal declared that Tinubu of the All Progressives Congress (APC) was duly qualified to contest the February 25 presidential election.
He also dismissed the claim by Obi and LP that the election that produced Tinubu did not comply with the 2022 Electoral Act on grounds that results of the election were not transmitted real time to the INEC’s Results Viewing Portal (IReV).
Tsammani said it wasn’t stated in the Electoral Act that elections must be electronically transmitted for collation.
He also dismissed Obi and LP’s petitions on 25 per cent votes of Tinubu in the Federal Capital Territory (FCT), saying Abuja is like other states.
According to Tsammani, the petitioner’s interpretation of Section 134 (2) (b) of the 1999 Constitution was based on a fixation of the word “and” and this is completely fallacious if not outrightly ridiculous.
Justice Tsammani held that there was equality of rights irrespective of which part of the country voters preferred to live in.
The PEPC had earlier struck out the double nomination suit against Vice President Kashim Shettima.
The five-member court held that the suit filed by the Allied Peoples Movement (APM) lacked merit.
APM had sought to invalidate the election of President Tinubu on account of double nomination of Shettima as both senatorial and vice presidential candidate.
The PEPC held that the issue of nomination is a pre-election matter outside the scope of the court’s jurisdiction.
The PEPC upheld the preliminary objections raised against the competence of the petition by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), the All Progressives Congress (APC), President Bola Tinubu, Kashim Shettima and Kabir Masari the placeholder.
Justice Tsammani, who read the lead ruling, stated that the petitioner has no locus standi to have initiated the case.
The judge held that there is no provision in the law for another party to intervene in the process adopted by another party in the nomination of its candidate.
The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) had, on March 1, 2023, declared Tinubu of the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) as the winner of presidential election ahead of 17 other candidates that participated in the election.
Tinubu scored 8,794,726 votes to defeat the two major contenders – Atiku of the PDP, who came second with 6,984,520 votes, and Obi of the Labour Party, who came third with 6,101,533 votes.
However, dissatisfied with the outcome of the election, both Atiku and Obi approached the court to invalidate it.
The duo, in their separate petitions, claimed that they won the presidential poll, as they challenged Tinubu’s eligibility to contest the election.
The petitioners prayed the court to nullify the election and order a fresh presidential election, with the exclusion of President Tinubu whom they argued was not qualified to participate.