Finally, the D-day is upon us! The five-member panel of the presidential election petition tribunal will either set a record or follow the trend.
Since the return of democracy in 1999, no court has ever overturned a presidential election in Nigeria. The winner declared by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) usually triumphs at the tribunal; and even when the case gets to the supreme court, nothing changes.
The presidential tribunal is set to deliver its verdict in a few hours. Some Nigerians are hoping that something different happens, while some pray that luck shines on their preferred candidate
Unlike in the past, the proceedings of the 2023 presidential election petition tribunal have generated a lot of talking points from the inception to the end.
One man — Ahmed Bola Tinubu — has been at the centre of the legal battle at the tribunal. After he was declared the winner of the February 25 presidential election by INEC, opposition parties rejected the outcome of the election.
Atiku Abubakar, candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), and Peter Obi, his Labour Party (LP) counterpart, approached the tribunal to challenge Tinubu’s victory.
In a few hours, the tribunal will rule on certain issues that form the pillars of the petitions.
25% IN FCT
One major issue that has generated a lot of talking points since the announcement of the presidential election results is the 25 per cent debate as it relates to the federal capital territory (FCT), Nigeria’s capital.
Tinubu failed to secure 25 per cent of the total votes cast in the FCT — a development that has elicited varied reactions.
According to results declared by INEC, Obi scored the highest votes with 281,717, Tinubu got 90,902 votes, while Atiku came a distant third with 74,199 votes. With the results, only the LP candidate garnered 25 per cent of the votes cast in the FCT.
Both Atiku and Obi had argued that since Tinubu failed to secure 25 per cent of the votes in FCT, he should not be declared the winner of the election.
Their argument is hinged on the provision of section 134 (2) of the 1999 constitution (as amended).
Section 134 (2) says: “A candidate for an election to the office of President shall be deemed to have been duly elected where, there being more than two candidates for the election: (a) he has the highest number of votes cast at the election; and (b) he has not less than one-quarter of the votes cast at the election in each of at least two-thirds of all the States in the Federation and the Federal Capital Territory, Abuja.”
However, Tinubu’s legal team argued that the FCT has no special status in Nigeria’s electoral process.
The presidential tribunal will definitely provide answers to the raging debate of 25 per cent votes in FCT.
‘MANIPULATION OF RESULTS, OVERVOTING’
A woman casting her votes at a polling unit
The tribunal will also determine whether the petitioners — Atiku and Obi — provided enough evidence to support their claims of alleged manipulation, overvoting, suppression of votes, mutilations, cancellations and overwriting on result sheets, and manipulation of BVAS machines, among other alleged infractions.
The five-member panel will also decide whether the alleged infractions cited by the petitioners are enough to overturn Tinubu’s victory.
The petitioners had raised a number of issues on the conduct of the election by the umpire.
DELAY IN ELECTRONIC TRANSMISSION OF RESULTS
INEC ad hoc
An electoral officer with BVAS machine
In the build-up to the 2023 election, INEC promised Nigerians that results at polling units will be immediately uploaded to its resulting viewing portal (IReV)
However, during the presidential election, the commission failed to instantly upload results to IReV.
Owing to the incident, petitioners asked the tribunal to decide whether INEC complied with the provisions of the Electoral Act of 2022 and its guidelines on the electronic transmission of election results.
ALLEGED DOUBLE NOMINATION
The nomination of Kashim Shettima as Tinubu’s running mate is also one of the issues at stake at the presidential tribunal.
Petitioners alleged that Shettima was still the APC’s candidate for Borno central senatorial district when he accepted the nomination to be Tinubu’s running mate.
But APC argued that the vice-president had resigned as the party’s senatorial candidate before the presidential primary.
In May, the supreme court ruled that Shettima was not guilty of double nomination.
ALLEGED PERJURY ON AGE, DUAL CITIZENSHIP
Prior to the February 25 election, the exact age of Tinubu was a controversial issue. But Tinubu said his record is consistent.
At the presidential tribunal, petitioners argued that the alleged inconsistency in Tinubu’s age made him unqualified to contest for the position of president.
Another issue was the debate on dual citizenship. Tinubu was said to have voluntarily acquired the citizenship of the Republic of Guinea.
Petitioners had tendered a document purported to be Tinubu’s Guinean passport to support the claim of dual citizenship.
Petitioners had also argued that the declaration of Tinubu as the winner of the presidential election was invalid because of his alleged dual citizenship.
The authenticity of Tinubu’s academic records is another issue that will be determined by the tribunal.
Tinubu’s credentials showed that he graduated from Chicago State University (CSU) in 1979 with a bachelor’s degree in business administration, accounting and management.
However, there have been allegations bordering on discrepancies with Tinubu’s certificate. At the tribunal, petitioners raised issues on alleged discrepancies in the certificate.
Recently, Atiku approached a US court for the northern district of Illinois in Chicago for an order compelling CSU to release Tinubu’s academic records.
ALLEGED DRUG CONVICTION
This is arguably the biggest issue at stake at the presidential election tribunal. Many Nigerians are keen to know the verdict of the tribunal on the issue.
At every point in Tinubu’s political journey, the issue of an alleged drug conviction involving the former Lagos governor in the United States has always resurfaced.
The petitioners said the alleged forfeiture of $460,000 by Tinubu as a fine for narcotics trafficking imposed by a US court on the president in 1993 makes him unqualified to contest for the election.
The forfeiture case has elicited reactions on whether forfeiture is the same thing as conviction.
The tribunal will definitely provide answers to the issue of whether the forfeiture of the funds amounts to a criminal conviction for drug trafficking.
Imo LP gov candidate, supporters storm INEC, demand poll true certified copy
Athan Achonu, Labour Party governorship candidate for Imo, and scores of his supporters on Thursday stormed the national headquarters of the Independent National Electoral Commission in Abuja to demand the true certified copy (CTC) of the just concluded poll in the state.
Achonu, who was accompanied by the National Youth Leader, Kennedy Ahanotu, also accused the electoral umpire of playing a double standard in the November 11 off-cycle election.
The protest came two weeks after INEC declared Governor Hope Uzodimma of the All Progressives Congress winner of the election.
The APC candidate polled 540,308 votes to beat Samuel Anyanwu of the Peoples Democratic Party who scored 71,503 votes and Achonu who could only secure 64,081 votes.
However, the two opposition candidates rejected the result and declared that the election was marred by electoral irregularities.
The long procession, which saw the demonstrators chanting solidarity songs and displaying various banners that read “INEC Give Us Our CTC” “Respect Our Law” and “INEC Has Become Headache to Nigerian People” caused a mild gridlock.
Addressing newsmen in front of the INEC building, Achonu accused the commission of deliberately refusing to give him a copy of the Imo poll CTC because they had something to hide.
The LP candidate stated that unlike what transpired in Bayelsa where it took three days to round up the election process, INEC collated Imo ballots and hurriedly announced the result in two hours.
He said, “When collation started after the voting, our state election agent duly asked INEC not to announce any result that collation started very early that day even when voting was going on. They were even uploading results on iREV when voting was taking place. So how did that happen? They were told to go to their backend server and confirm the result they were about to announce. But INEC refused to do that. The returning insisted they should go on because they had a hidden agenda.
“Meanwhile it took Bayelsa which has just eight local governments almost three days to announce their result. But in Imo which has 27 local governments, it took them just two hours to announce the result that was already uploaded.
“So we duly wrote to INEC asking them to review the election. They hurriedly announced the result, even before the seven days allowed for review lapsed. Up till today when we are speaking, we have not received the certified copy of that result despite writing them officially. We will not leave here today until we collect the CTC since INEC has refused to come out and address us.”
While the demonstration was ongoing, two INEC national commissioners, Mohammed Haruna and Prof Abdullahi Abdu Zuru, came out to address the group.
While urging the protesters to exercise patience, Haruna promised them their grievance would be addressed by the commission in earnest.
“We understand you have come here with a petition. The national chairman (Prof Yakubu Mahmood) asked the two of us to come here on his behalf on behalf to receive your petition. And I assure you (it will be addressed because this is your right.
“The CTC you requested is always collected at the state level. So we have a copy of your letter here now, I assure you it will attended to,” he stated.
Kano gov poll: Abba Yusuf takes battle to Supreme Court
Abba Yusuf, Kano State Governor, whose sacking by the electoral tribunal was upheld by the Court of Appeal on Friday, has vowed to reclaim his mandate at the Supreme Court.
The appeal court sitting in Abuja upheld the ruling of the tribunal that sacked Yusuf and declared Nasiru Gawuna of the All Progresives Congress the winner of the March 18 election.
In a broadcast on Friday night, Yusuf said he had instructed his legal team to challenge the appeal court-s ruling at the Supreme Court.
“We have consulted all stakeholders and resolved and decided that our lawyers should challenge the Appeal Court kudgment at the Supreme Court.
“We believe and have the confidence that the Supreme Court will reclaim the mandate of the Kano people who voted for us,” he said.
He urged the people to continue to go about their lawful activities as security agents have been directed to ensure law and order prevail in the state.
Earlier while reacting to the Appeal Court judgment, the National Chairman of the APC, Abdullahi Ganduje, said his party was waiting for Yusuf and the New Nigerian Peoples Party at the apex court.
He said, “I thank Allah for this important judgement. We have to thank the judiciary for providing good administration of justice despite all the distractions that took place since the beginning of the case.
“We have to thank the judiciary. There is no doubt this is a victory for democracy. It is a victory for APC and a victory for Kano State. This is an indication that democracy has come to stay in Nigeria. Democracy we can say is matured in Nigeria. We have to thank all those stakeholders, the political parties, even the NNPP that took us to the Appeal Court.
“For Kano State, this victory is for all of us. We are fully aware, we know what happened during the election; a lot of malpractices and we took the issue to the tribunal and by the grace of God, we got a fair judgement in favour of our great party, APC.
“Now, the government in power, the NNPP decided to go the Court of Appeal and this morning , by the power of God, the Court of Appeal affirmed the judgement of the lower court. And by so doing, our gubernatorial candidate, Dr. Nasiru Gawuna is the duly elected governor of Kano State.
“But in all, probably, they will go to the Supreme Court which is part of democracy. There is nothing wrong for them to go to the Supreme Court. We too, we are ready to meet them in Supreme Court. And Insha Allah, we will win at the Supreme Court as well.”
Guber elections: Tinubu congratulates APC’s Uzodinma, Ododo, PDP’s Diri
President Bola Tinubu, on Monday, congratulated the winners of the governorship elections in Bayelsa, Kogi and Imo states.
The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) conducted off-cycle elections in the three states to elect governors last Saturday.
In Imo, Hope Uzodinma, won a re-election while Usman Ododo, candidate of the All Progressives Congress (APC), won the election to succeed Yahaya Bello, who is completing his two-term of eight years.
Also, Douye Diri of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) won his re-election in Bayelsa.
In a statement on Monday, Ajuri Ngelale, presidential spspokesperson, quoted Tinubu as saying that the victory of the politicians “reflect the people’s wishes”.
“May your tenure in office be defined by close collaboration with all of your counterparts across party lines in the attainment of pan-Nigerian developmental achievements that benefit everyone, and may you lead at all times with compassion and a deepened commitment to our nation’s unity,” the statement reads.
“The outcome of the elections reflects the wishes of the people, emphasizing that democracy thrives when voters reward competence, transparency, and good governance.”
Tinubu said the winners should position their states as hubs of peace, commerce, entrepreneurship, and prosperity in Nigeria, adding that they should prioritise the common good of the people over partisan interests.
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