The Presidential Election Petition Court (PEPC) yesterday announced that it has scheduled for the same day delivery of its judgments on the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP)/Atiku Abubakar, Peter Obi/Labour Party (LP), and Allied Peoples Movement (APM) petitions against the election of President Bola Tinubu.
The Presiding Justice of the PEPC, Justice Haruna Tsammani, informed counsel to the parties in the APM petition of this development after the lawyers adopted their final written addresses.
Justice Tsammani said the court had reserved judgment in the petition until a date to be communicated to the parties.
The PEPC, according to him, planned to deliver judgments on the same day on the three petitions now pending before court, in line with the provisions of its practice guidelines.
Adopting their final written addresses earlier, respondents’ lawyers – Chief Wole Olanipekun (SAN) for President Tinubu and Vice President Kashim Shettma; Lateef Fagbemi (SAN) for the All Progressives Congress (APC); Steven Adehi (SAN) for the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) and Roland Otaru (SAN) for Kabir Masari – urged the court to dismiss the petition for being unmeritorious.
But counsel to the petitioner, Andrew Malgwi (SAN) prayed the court to allow his client’s petition and grant the reliefs sought.
The APM had prayed the court to void Tinubu’s participation in the election, claiming among others, that he, at the time of the presidential election of February 25, 2023, was not qualified to contest the position of the president as a result of the alleged double nomination of his then running mate, Kashim Shettima.
The APM claimed that at the time of the election, the APC had no vice presidential candidate because Kabiru Masari (the placeholder) resigned, while Shettima allegedly had double nomination – as candidate for Borno Central Senatorial District and vice presidential candidate.
It also contended that by their alleged acts, the APC, Tinubu and Shettima breached Section 142 of the Constitution and Section 35 of the Electoral Act, 2022.
It asked the court to nullify Tinubu’s victory and declare PDP’s candidate, Atiku Abubakar, who came second, as winner of the election.
In its final written address, the APC argued that the sole issue of non-qualification raised by the APM, which it hinged on its claim of double nomination, was effectively dealt with in the May 26, 2023 judgment of the Supreme Court in the suit filed by the PDP against INEC and two others.
The party argued that the petition amounted to an abuse of court process as the sole issue raised in it has been caught by the doctrine of issue estoppel.
It said: “The abstract nature of the petition is further brought to the fore when it is realised that the petitioner’s sole ground of non-qualification anchored on allegation of breach of Section 142 of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999 (as amended) and Section 35 of the Electoral Act, 2022, sought to be re-litigated by the petitioner against the return of the 3rd and 4th respondents as President and Vice President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, pursuant to the presidential election held on 25th February, 2023, have been settled and determined by the Supreme Court of Nigeria.
“Indeed, more worrisome is the academic, theoretical and hypothetical nature of the entire petition when considered against the reliefs sought in paragraph 31 of the petition, which is of no practical utilitarian value to the petitioner, who came a distant 13th position, polling a miserly 25, 961 votes as against the 3rd and 4th respondents’ 8,794,726 votes, even if judgment is given in petitioner’s favour.
“Flowing from the above, as a critical prefatory remark, it is no doubt clear that the instant election petition was from the outset doomed to fail.
“Apart from the fact that the averments and materials attached to the petition were grossly insufficient to sustain the petition, the sole ground upon which those facts were predicated was effectively caught by the doctrine of issue estoppel, having been fully and finally determined by the apex court in its decision delivered on the 26 May 2023 in suit No: SC/CV/501/2023 between Peoples Democratic Party V. INEC and 3 others.”
It argued that neither Tinubu nor Shettima breached the provisions of the constitution and the Electoral Act relied on by the petitioner, adding that the APM was unable to prove that they violated both provisions.
“It is our humble contention that the 3rd respondent (Tinubu) is a member of the 2nd respondent political party (APC) and was validly sponsored by the 2nd respondent in compliance with the provisions of Section 131(c) of the Constitution and same is not in contention in this petition.
“Also, the 3rd respondent has nominated the 4th respondent (Shettima) as his associate from the same political party to occupy the office of Vice President and, by that token, deemed to have been duly elected to the office of Vice President upon the election of the 3rd respondent to the office of President at the election of 25th February,2023.
“We humbly submit that the responsibility of nominating a vice president is on the presidential candidate.
“The way and manner in which such nomination is to be done is not prescribed by the Constitution or Electoral Act, same being the sole responsibility of the presidential candidate, which duty, the 3rd respondent, in this petition performed accurately and satisfactorily by nominating the 4th respondent.
“It is the contention of the petitioner that the 4th respondent was nominated by the 2nd respondent for the office of the Senator representing Borno Central Senatorial District on 25th June, 2022 and was also nominated by the 3rd respondent for the office of the Vice-president in violation of Section 35 of the Electoral Act, 2022.
“We submit that the office of the vice president is not one for which a primary election is conducted. Rather, a presidential candidate, who is elected during primary election, nominates the vice president of his choice.”
Tinubu, Shettima and the APC had closed their defence in Atiku’s petition on July 6, 24 hours after doing the same in respect of the Obi’s petition.
The court said at the time that it would fix a date for closing arguments by the counsel in the suit.
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