Less than a fortnight after the Presidential Election Petition Tribunal (PEPT) confirmed Bola Tinubu’s triumph in the February 25, 2023 elections, Atiku Abubakar and Peter Obi, the presidential candidates from the Peoples Democratic Party and Labour Party respectively, have mounted an exhaustive 86-ground appeal at the Supreme Court. The aim is to overturn what they describe as an “erroneous” verdict that affirmed Tinubu’s election.
Atiku’s portion of the appeal focuses on 35 key issues, challenging the tribunal’s conclusions on matters like electronic transmission of results and the vote count in the Federal Capital Territory. Obi, in contrast, objects to the September 6 ruling on 51 separate grounds.
The original decision by the tribunal, headed by Justice Haruna Tsammani, stated that Atiku, Obi, and other petitioners failed to prove their allegations of misconduct during the elections carried out by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC). The court held that both oral and documentary evidence were insufficient to validate claims of irregularities and corruption that could nullify Tinubu’s win.
Atiku and Obi insist on Tinubu’s election nullification
In their appeal, both Atiku and Obi argue that they should be declared the legitimate winners of the election. They also contend that Tinubu was not qualified to run for the presidency based on the votes received. Atiku’s appeal in particular is anchored on the assertion that the tribunal erred in rejecting his arguments about the mandatory electronic transmission of results, as specified in the 2022 Electoral Act.
A cornerstone of Atiku and Obi’s challenge is their allegation that INEC failed to uphold the rules set by the Electoral Act of 2022 regarding the electronic transmission of results. They assert that the agency, led by Chairman Prof Yakubu Mahmoud, misled the public and candidates by initially claiming that results would be electronically transmitted, only to forgo this promised transparency during the actual electoral process.
Atiku and Obi also took issue with the court’s handling of testimony and evidence. They argue that the lower court improperly shifted the burden of proof onto them, rather than holding INEC accountable for various alleged missteps and discrepancies.
Among the numerous points raised in their 42-page appeal, Atiku and Obi challenge the tribunal’s interpretation of the requirement for securing 25 percent of the votes in the Federal Capital Territory. They also argue that the court improperly disregarded their witnesses’ testimonies as hearsay and erred in failing to nullify the election based on apparent violations of the Electoral Act of 2022.
The appeals are seeking various outcomes, including a new election, or alternatively, declaring Atiku or Obi as the rightful winner based on the majority of lawful votes. With both appeals now filed, all eyes are on the Supreme Court to see if it will uphold or overturn the tribunal’s original decision in favor of Tinubu.
Supreme Court set to give its verdict
As the country eagerly awaits the Supreme Court’s judgment, the exhaustive 86-ground appeal by Atiku and Obi brings into sharp focus the ongoing debates surrounding the credibility and integrity of the electoral process in Nigeria. This challenge to Tinubu’s presidential win is seen as a major test for the nation’s electoral system and its ability to fairly adjudicate disputes.
With the legal challenge now fully underway, the case promises to be a landmark in the political history of Nigeria, affecting not just Atiku, Obi, and Tinubu’s political futures, but potentially setting precedents for electoral law and practice in the country.
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