The 2023 Presidential Election Petition Court (PEPC) will tomorrow, September 6, deliver the much anticipated judgment in the three different petitions challenging the declaration of President Bola Ahmed Tinubu of the All Progressives Congress (APC) by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) as winner of the February 25 presidential election.
The five-man panel of PEPC led by Justice Haruna Tsammani is expected to make pronouncements on the petitions filed by the presidential candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Atiku Abubakar; that of Peter Obi of the Labour Party, as well as the petition of the Allied Peoples Movement (APM), all seeking nullification of Tinubu’s victory.
The PEPC had on July 14, reserved judgment on the petition by APM marked CA/ PEPC/03/2023, just as on August 1, it reserved judgment on the separate petitions by Atiku and Obi.
Earlier, the petitions by the Action Alliance (AA) marked CA/PEPC/01/2023, and that of the Action Peoples Party (APP) marked CA/PEPC/02/2023, were dismissed by the PEPC following their withdrawal by the respective petitioners.
Specifically, the three remaining petitioners are seeking the nullification of Tinubu’s victory on the grounds that the election was rigged in favour of the APC presidential candidate.
The APM is seeking the disqualification of Tinubu on the ground that his vice presidential candidate, Kashim Shettima, “unlawfully” allowed himself to be nominated twice for two different positions.
Recall that Shettima, ab initio, was nominated by the APC as candidate for Borno Central Senatorial district and was later nominated by the same party as vice presidential candidate following the withdrawal of one Kabiru Masari, a place holder, who was the initial vice presidential candidate to Tinubu.
On their part, Atiku and Obi in their separate petitions marked CA/PEPC/05/2023, and CA/PEPC/04/2023, respectively, are seeking the disqualification and nullification of Tinubu’s victory at the poll.
Atiku had asked the PEPC while adopting his final address through his lead counsel, Chris Uche (SAN), to do substantial justice to his petition rather than relying on technicalities to give judgment that may pervert the course of justice.
Atiku had insisted that Tinubu be disqualified on the strength of the American court judgment where he (Tinubu) was made to forfeit $460,000 on alleged narcotics and money laundering related offences.
Atiku and Obi, while adopting their respective final addresses, also insisted that the February 25 presidential election in which INEC declared Tinubu as winner was highly flawed with widespread rigging and electoral malpractices, non-deployment of BVAS device in the transmission of presidential election results, and substantial noncompliance with the provisions of the Electoral Act 2022, as amended etc.
On their part, Tinubu, APC and the INEC, all respondents in the petitions, prayed the PEPC to dismiss the petitions for want of merit and on jurisdictional grounds, having failed to prove substantial rigging.
Meanwhile, the Chief Registrar of the Court of Appeal, Umar Bangari, on Monday confirmed that judgment in the three petitions before the Presidential Election Petition Court will be televised live tomorrow.
But the PEPC had on May 22, 2023, unanimously dismissed a motion on notice filed by the PDP and its presidential candidate, Atiku Abubakar, seeking the live telecast of sittings of the PEPC.
Chairman of the PEPC, Justice Haruna Tsammani, in his lead ruling held that the court as constituted, only has power to hear and determine election petition and not to serve as an avenue to test run the live broadcast of sittings.
Justice Tsammani noted that though a novel issue in the country’s jurisprudence, however, said, “I have seen the practice direction issued by the President of Court of Appeal, or any regulatory framework, and cannot find out where provision for live broadcast was stated.
“It is an issue that borders on policy and administrative in nature.
“This court lacks the power to make such policy and cannot make an order that will lead to over dramatisation of PEPC proceedings.”
However, Bangari said the live telecast of the judgment is to ensure transparency.
“In a bid to promote transparency and openness, these judgments will be televised live by interested television stations for the public to follow”, the Court of Appeal chief registrar stated.
He added that the appeal court premises, venue of the PEPC sitting, will be strictly upon accreditation.
“Access to the court premises will be strictly on accreditation. Only accredited individuals, including counsel and representatives of political parties, will be granted access into the courtroom.
“Interested members of the public are advised to watch proceedings from their television sets.
“We appeal for the maximum cooperation of the general public to ensure a hitch free exercise”, Bangari stated.