The Presidential Election Petition Court (PEPC), located in Abuja, has officially commenced the delivery of its judgment regarding the petition filed by the Allied Peoples Movement (APM) aimed at nullifying the election of President Bola Tinubu.
Led by Justice Haruna Tsammani, the five-member panel of the court announced that they would not read every detail of the judgment, particularly all the arguments presented during the hearing. They emphasized that although all three cases challenging President Tinubu’s election were consolidated, the petitions would maintain their separate identities.
The Labour Party’s petition and that of its presidential candidate, Peter Obi, were initially scheduled to be addressed first, but the panel decided to start with the APM’s petition.
The APM’s petition, marked as CA/PEPC/04/2023, named the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC), President Tinubu, Vice President Kashim Shettima, and Mr. Kabiru Masari as the 1st to 5th defendants.
During the hearings, the APM, represented by its lawyer, Mr. Andrew Malgwi, SAN, urged the court to remove President Tinubu from office and revoke the Certificate of Return issued to him by INEC. Conversely, all the defendants requested the court to dismiss the case on the grounds of incompetence.
President Tinubu, represented by a legal team led by Chief Wole Olanipekun, SAN, argued that the APM’s petition lacked merit. He contended that the primary issue raised by the APM, concerning Vice President Shettima’s dual nominations by the APC for different elective positions, had already been resolved by the Supreme Court. President Tinubu further argued that the APM’s petition failed to present a valid cause of action against him and lacked substance.
Both the APC’s counsel, Prince Lateef Fagbemi, SAN, and INEC’s counsel, Mr. Steven Adehi, SAN, urged the court to dismiss the petition. The APC maintained that President Tinubu’s nomination and eligibility for the presidential election were without fault, while INEC supported the election outcome.
Following the arguments presented by all parties, the Justice Tsammani-led panel announced that it would communicate the judgment date to them.
The APM had concluded its case on June 21, after its sole witness testified before the court.
The essence of the APM’s petition was that the withdrawal of Mr. Masari, initially nominated as the Vice-Presidential candidate of the APC, invalidated Tinubu’s candidacy, citing Section 131(c) and 142 of the 1999 Constitution, as amended. The APM argued that there was a significant gap between Masari’s intention to withdraw, the actual withdrawal of his nomination, and Tinubu’s replacement of him with Senator Shettima.
The APM contended that, as of the time Tinubu nominated Shettima as Masari’s replacement, Tinubu’s candidacy had already lapsed. Consequently, the APM petitioned the court to declare Shettima unqualified to contest as the Vice-Presidential candidate of the APC during the election.
The court had suspended further proceedings on May 30 after President Tinubu’s counsel, Chief Olanipekun, SAN, brought to its attention a Supreme Court judgment that addressed the APM’s main issue. The Supreme Court judgment pertained to the legality of President Tinubu’s nomination to contest the election by the APC. Chief Olanipekun argued that the Supreme Court’s decision addressed the substance of the APM’s petition.
The APM, however, decided to proceed with its petition. It tendered exhibits in evidence that it believed would substantiate its case, including documents related to Masari’s withdrawal and Shettima’s nomination as Tinubu’s running mate.
INEC also submitted documents related to the withdrawal and replacement of Shettima as the APC’s senatorial candidate in Borno state.
The court will soon deliver its judgment in this closely-watched case.