Peter Obi, presidential candidate of the Labour Party, filed his petition with the election tribunal on Tuesday, 22 days after the hotly contested presidential poll was conducted.
Obi, in his petition, states the grounds for the appeal and the determinations he wants the court to make.
What exactly is Obi asking for in his election petition?
Determination of the qualification or otherwise of the presidential and vice-presidential candidates of the All Progressives Congress (APC)
Obi wants the court to determine whether Bola Tinubu and Kashim Shettima were qualified to contest in the election. On the grounds of appeal filed by Obi and the Labour Party (petitioners in the action), it was noted that Shettima, the vice-presidential candidate of the APC, was a candidate nominated for the office of the Senate in the Borno central constituency until July 15, 2022, when he withdrew from the senatorial bid. Shettima was nominated as the vice-presidential candidate of the APC on July 14, 2022. Obi argues that by virtue of the law, a person cannot allow himself to be nominated more than once in any federal electoral bid. It is important to noted that the eligibility of the vice-presidential candidate affects that of the presidential candidate.
More so, the petition argues that Tinubu, the presidential candidates of the APC, was not qualified to run at the time of the election on the basis that he was fined the sum of $460,000 for an offence involving dishonesty “namely, narcotics drug trafficking imposed by the United States District Court, Northern District of Illinois, Eastern Division in the case between the United States of America and the funds in the account held in the name of Bola Tinubu. By virtue of section 137 (1) (e) of the 1999 Constitution, a person shall not be qualified for election to the office of President if ‘within a period of less than ten years before the date of the election to the office of President he has been convicted and sentenced for an offence involving dishonesty’.”
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Declaration of wasted votes
Obi is also praying the court to declare that the votes gained by Tinubu during the elections are wasted votes by virtue of the non-qualification/disqualification of Tinubu and Shettima. As noted in grounds of appeal, Obi insists that the votes secured by the APC candidates are wasted votes as they were not qualified in the first instance to contest in the elections. This is on the basis that Shettima “knowingly allowed himself to be nominated as the vice-presidential candidate whilst he was still a senatorial candidate for the Borno central senatorial constituency, rendering their contesting the election invalid.”
Declaration as winner
He is also asking the court to declare him the winner after the court determines on the basis of the remaining votes – that is after the court rejects the votes secured by the presidential candidate of the APC because he scored the majority of the votes cast in the presidential election. According to the grounds of appeal, it was stated that Tinubu was not duly elected by majority of the lawful votes cast at the election. This ground of appeal is based on the provisions of section 134 (2) of the 1999 Constitution of Nigeria which states that “a candidate for an election to the office of the President shall be deemed to have been duly elected where, there been more than two candidates for the election, he has the highest number of votes cast at the election and; 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.” Summarily, for a candidate to be elected as president, he must first have the highest number of votes cast in the election. Secondly, he must have not less than 25 percent of votes cast in each of at least 24 states and the FCT. Obi is asking that the court declares him winner since he is the only candidate that obtained the required conditions for a person to be declared as president of Nigeria – having obtained 25 percent of the votes cast in the 24 states of the federation and the FCT.
Alternatively, Obi pleads that if the court cannot declare him winner at the election, the court should cancel the February 25 presidential election, order the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to conduct fresh election, and declare that the APC along with presidential and vice-presidential candidates do not participate in the election.
Unconstitutionality of the presidential election
Obi asks the court that it should alternatively declare election and return of Tinubu as “unlawful, unconstitutional and of no effect whatsoever” , and that the court should determine on the basis of the valid votes cast at the presidential election that he, Obi, scored the highest votes in the election and not less than 25 percent of the votes cast in each of at least 24 states of the federation and the FCT. He said he not only secured the votes in these states but also secured 25 percent votes in the FCT independently. He also asks the court to order INEC to issue a certificate of return to him and withdraw the certificate already issued to the candidate of the APC, which is to be set aside and declared null and void.
Non-compliance with the provisions of the law
The petitioner asks the court to declare the presidential election null and void as it was not substantially conducted in accordance with the 1999 Constitution and the Electoral Act 2022. This is with regards to the provisions of the Electoral Act, section 60 (5), which states that “the presiding officer shall transfer the results including total number of accredited voters and the results of the ballot in a manner as prescribed by the commission”.
Speaking on the petition filed, Archibong Edet, a Lagos-based lawyer, said: “I have read the 100-page petition of Peter Obi challenging the declaration of Tinubu as the winner of the presidential election. I commend the industry exerted in the petition and we can only await the decisions of the court.”
Adeyemi Adedeji, a dispute resolution lawyer, said: “Although we await the response from the respondents, I believe that both parties are ready and have exerted efforts in putting forth their arguments. It is now left for which party can excellently prove its argument.”