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Presidential election petition tribunal upholds Tinubu’s victory as President

Affirms INEC’s authority on transmitting election results, says FCT is not special, forfeiture of drug related money, not a criminal offence 

THE Presidential Election Petition Tribunal sitting in Abuja has dismissed the petitions filed by the presidential candidates of the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) Atiku Abubakar, and Peter Obi of the Labour Party (LP) against the declaration of Bola Ahmed Tinubu of the All Progressives Congress (APC) as winner of the February 2023 presidential elections.

The five man panel of judges, led by Justice Haruna Tsammani on Wednesday, ruled that the petitioners failed to prove claims of electoral malpractice against APC in the disputed elections, and voided their prayers. 

One of the judges said, “this petition is hereby declared unmeritorious,” as the tribunal rejected the challenge to Tinubu’s victory in the election.

The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) had declared Tinubu winner after garnering 37 percent of the vote, beating Abubakar and Obi to second and third places respectively. 

Following the deviation of INEC from deploying the electronic process of collation of election results Abubakar and Obi asked the court to invalidate the election, alleging irregularities.

Judges rejected all claims of fraud, Tinubu’s ineligibility, charges that INEC broke the elevtorallaw and allegations Tinubu was ineligible to run.

made by LP and Obi, including fraud, charges electoral authorities broke the law and allegations Tinubu was ineligible to run.

The court was also reading its judgement on a second opposition party petition, which is also expected to be dismissed. Filed by PDP candidate Abubakar, it lays out similar complaints against the February 25 election results.

With the ruling, the court maintained the tradition of no legal challenge to the outcome of a presidential election has succeeded in Nigeria, which returned to democracy in 1999.

Atiku and Obi can appeal to the country’s Supreme Court to strike down the tribunal’s ruling. Any appeal must be concluded within 60 days of the date of the tribunal judgement.

The electoral commission had introduced biometric technology (BVAS) and IReV, a central database for uploading results in real-time to ensure transparency. But sidetracked to full deployment of the technology. 

INEC acknowledged “glitches,” which the petitioners said had allowed opportunities for vote manipulation, and contravened the electoral process and laws.

INEC’s  authority in transmitting election result

The judges affirmed INEC’s discretion to determine the mode of election result transmission for the presidential election.

Justice Haruna Tsammani, referred to Sections 52 and 65 of the Electoral Act 2022, which granted INEC the freedom to prescribe the method of transmitting election results during the poll.

The Tribunal dismissed Obi’s petition, which sought to annul the victory of Tinubu based on the alleged “failure” of INEC’s results viewing portal to electronically upload results in real-time.

25% requirement in FCT not special

The tribunal declared that the Federal Capital Territory does not hold a higher status than other states in the country.

According to Justice Tsammani, Section 134 (1) and (2) of the 1999 Constitution of Nigeria (as amended) stipulates that a presidential candidate must attain or score a majority of votes cast in a presidential election, where two or more candidates are involved, and at least 25% in two-thirds of the 36 States and FCT to meet the constitutional requirement to be declared as duly elected as President of Nigeria.

Tinubu’s drug-dealing forfeiture,ineligibility 

The Tribunal ruled that Tinubu cannot be disqualified on the basis of his forfeiture of drug money in the United States. 

The court said the Police in Nigeria had previously cleared Tinubu of any criminal issues in the U.S., which came through an enquiry the police had made to the U.S. law enforcement.

The court said Mr Tinubu has been able to enter and exit the U.S., and that means he has no criminal case.

The court also said the forfeiture order against Mr Tinubu, in which the U.S. seized $460,000 in drugs-related proceeds in 1993, was in civil proceedings, not criminal, and, therefore, not sufficient to nullify his presidency.

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