In a landmark decision, the Presidential Election Petition Court (PEPT) recently dismissed the petitions of the Labour Party (LP), Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), and the Allied Peoples Movement (APM), along with their respective candidates, against the election of President Bola Tinubu.
Touchaheart Nigeria reports that the key highlights of the judgment and explores the reasons behind the dismissal of these petitions.
Obi and LP’s Failed Rigging Allegations
One of the central claims made by Peter Obi of the LP was that the 2023 presidential election was rigged in favor of President Tinubu.
However, the court held that Obi and the LP failed to provide credible evidence to support this allegation.
They couldn’t specify where the alleged irregularities occurred, such as the locations of polling units involved in the alleged rigging.
Moreover, the petitioners alleged that fictitious results were recorded for President Tinubu by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), but they did not provide concrete evidence to substantiate this claim.
The court also noted that many portions of the petition were vague and bereft of specific details, leading to the striking out of numerous paragraphs.
Valid Nomination of Obi by LP
Despite the dismissal of the rigging allegations, the court upheld the validity of Peter Obi’s nomination as the LP candidate for the presidential election.
It rejected claims that Obi was not validly nominated due to his party-switching between the PDP and the LP.
The court emphasized that party membership and nomination are internal party affairs and not justiciable matters.
It asserted that only the LP had the authority to determine its members, making the objections raised by the respondents invalid.
No Conviction of Tinubu in the US
One of the significant allegations against President Tinubu was that he had been convicted in the United States for drug trafficking.
However, the court dismissed this claim, stating that the $460,000 fine imposed on Tinubu in the US was a civil matter, not a criminal conviction.
This distinction was crucial, as a criminal conviction could have disqualified him from contesting the presidential election.
The court further highlighted that there was no evidence to prove that Tinubu had been tried or convicted for any criminal offense in the USA.
In fact, both a letter from the Inspector General of Police and a response from the US Embassy confirmed that there was no criminal record against Tinubu in the USA.
INEC’s Electronic Result Transmission
The issue of electronic transmission of election results was also addressed by the tribunal.
It clarified that there is no provision for electronic transmission of election results in the Electoral Act of 2022.
Therefore, INEC cannot be compelled to electronically transmit results, and it has the liberty to define the mode of result transmission.
Abuja’s 25% Votes Requirement
The tribunal ruled that scoring 25 percent of votes in the Federal Capital Territory (FCT), Abuja, was not a mandatory requirement for declaring victory.
It stated that FCT does not have special status over the other 36 states of the federation.
This clarification was made in response to claims made by the LP and Obi regarding the 25% votes requirement.
APM’s Incompetent Petition
Finally, the APM’s petition to nullify President Tinubu’s election was deemed incompetent by the tribunal.
The court held that the issues raised by APM contained pre-election matters that should have been determined by the Federal High Court.
It pointed out that the APM failed to challenge Tinubu’s nomination within the constitutionally allowed period, making their case statute-barred.
What you Should Know
The PEPT verdict dismissing the petitions against President Bola Tinubu’s election has significant implications for Nigeria’s political landscape.
While some claims were dismissed due to lack of evidence or procedural errors, the court’s rulings provide clarity on key electoral issues.
This verdict underscores the importance of comprehensive and well-supported petitions in the pursuit of electoral justice in Nigeria.