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2023 presidential election: A timeline of activities leading to the tribunals

February 25:

INEC conducted the presidential election on February 25 and started counting the votes after the exercise.

elections in Nigeria

February 28:

Opposition parties call for fresh Nigeria elections.

Three opposition parties have called for Nigeria’s election to be cancelled and rerun, over alleged widespread irregularities

The Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), the Labour Party and the African Democratic Congress (ADC) made the announcement at a press conference in the capital, Abuja.

They were critical of the Independent National Electoral Commission (Inec) and its handling of the electronic voting system.

“I demand that this sham of an election be cancelled and we call on Inec to conduct fresh elections within the window period provided by the electoral act,” Julius Abure, chairman of the Labour Party said.

Atiku Abubakar & Peter Obi
Atiku Abubakar, presidential candidate, Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), and Peter Obi, presidential candidate, Labour Party

March 21:

Obi, Atiku, others legally challenged election result, Tinubu’s declaration as winner

Peter Obi, the candidate for the Labour Party (LP) in the February 25th presidential election, submitted a petition to the Presidential Election Petition Court (PEPC) in Abuja.

The petition was filed by a team of lawyers comprising over a dozen Senior Advocates of Nigeria (SANs), including Dr. Livy Uzoukwu, Awa Kalu, Onyechi Ikpeazu, Constitutional lawyer, Chief Sebastian Hon, and Jibrin Okutepa.

In the petition marked CA/PEPC/03/2023, Obi requested that he be declared as the rightful winner of the election and that the All Progressives Congress (APC) candidate, Bola Tinubu, and his vice, Kashim Shettima, be disqualified for their wrongful nomination.

According to the petition, Obi said that he had scored the majority of lawful votes cast in the presidential poll, and he based his claim on three grounds including the fact that Tinubu was not qualified to contest the election, that the election of Tinubu was invalid due to corrupt practices or non-compliance with the provisions of the Electoral Act, 2022, and that Tinubu was not duly elected by the majority of the lawful votes cast at the presidential election.

Obi and the Labour Party are the petitioners in the suit dated March 20, 2023, while INEC, Tinubu, president-elect, Shetima, and the APC are the 1st, 2nd, 3rd, and 4th respondents, respectively.

In the first round of the petition, Obi and LP argued that the nomination of Shetima as vice president was done in violation of the law and, as such, should be disqualified.

The petitioners claim that on July 14, 2022, the 3rd respondent, contrary to the provisions of the Electoral Act 2022, knowingly allowed himself to be nominated as the Vice Presidential Candidate to the 2nd Respondent on the platform of the 4th Respondent and became the new Candidate for the office of the Vice President on that date (14 July 2022).

The petitioners intend to tender several documents to prove their claim, including a Verified Complaint for Forfeiture, submitted by Michael J. Shepard (United States Attorney) and signed by Marsha A. McClellan (Assistant United States Attorney); Stipulations and Compromise Settlement of Claims to the Funds held by Heritage Bank and CitiBank; and Decree of Forfeiture as to Funds held by First Heritage Bank, signed by United States District Judge, John A. Nordberg.

In addition, Obi and LP insisted Tinubu was not qualified to contest for election to the office of President as he was fined the sum of $460,000.00 (Four-Hundred and Sixty Thousand United States Dollars) for an offense involving dishonesty, namely narcotics trafficking imposed by the United States District Court, Northern District of Illinois, Eastern Division, in Case No: 93C 4483.

Finally, Obi requested that the court cancel the election and compel INEC to conduct a fresh election in which Tinubu, Shettima, and the APC shall not participate or determine that Tinubu was not duly elected by a majority of the lawful votes cast in the election for the office of the president and therefore the declaration and return of the 2nd Respondent as the winner of the Presidential Election’ are unlawful, unconstitutional, and of no effect whatsoever.

Kashim Shettima, the vice president-elect
Kashim Shettima, the vice president-elect

Read also: It’s my re-election gift – Sanwo-Olu tells Ikorodu residents

Atiku and Others

Atiku joined the list with his petition, filed in Abuja on Tuesday, marked as /PEPC/05/2023. Although the details of Atiku’s petition were not immediately available, he and his party criticised the entire process that led to Tinubu’s emergence as president-elect.

Atiku’s petition was filed 21 days after INEC Chairman, Professor Mahmood Yakubu, declared Tinubu the winner of the presidential election, citing his party’s majority of votes cast.

Solomon Okangbuan of the Action Alliance (AA)’s petition was filed under suit number CA/PEPC/01/2023, while Chichi Ojei of the Allied People’s Movement (APM)’s was filed as CA/PEPC/03/2023.

Tribunal gave Obi 21 Days for hearing on election petition

The leadership of the Labour Party and its presidential candidate, Peter Obi, were granted a 21-day window period for the election petition tribunal to set a date for the hearing of Obi’s case.

Yunusa Tanko, the chief spokesman of the Obi-Datti Presidential Campaign Council, revealed during an exclusive interview. He said that Obi has begun the process of reclaiming the people’s mandate in court by formally filing a petition on Tuesday to protest the outcome of the February 25 poll.

Further, Tanko said that the tribunal has given a 21-day response period, after which a date for the hearing can be fixed. Tanko shared a copy of the petition to keep the media informed of developments and expressed confidence that a hearing date would be set after the response period.

Obi’s petition comes four weeks after the controversial presidential and National assembly elections that produced the president-elect, Asiwaju Bola Tinubu.

While Tanko did not provide a reason for the delay in filing the petition, a party insider stated that Obi wanted to gather evidence to support his claim of massive rigging, voter intimidation, and corruption allegations against the electoral umpire before formally filing his case at the tribunal.

“You know Obi doesn’t like talking without getting facts. That’s why he took his time before he officially filed his case at the tribunal,” he said.

The petition marked CA/PEPC/03/2023 includes Obi and the LP as plaintiffs, while the INEC and the president-elect, Asiwaju Bola Tinubu, his deputy, Shettima Kashim, and the ruling APC are the 1st to 4th respondents.

Among other things, Obi is challenging the outcome of the presidential poll on the grounds that Tinubu was not qualified to contest due to an offense involving narcotics trafficking.

Peter Obi

March 27:

Nigerian Bar Association made request for live broadcast of election petition:

The Nigerian Bar Association (NBA) said they want a live broadcast of the proceedings of the 2023 Presidential Election Petition Tribunal.

Yakubu Chonoko Maikyau, president of NBA, said the live broadcast will be in the interest of openness, justice, transparency and trust in the judiciary.

This came up after Atiku Abubakar, Peoples Democratic Party (PDP); Peter Obi, Labour Party; Solomon Okangbuan, Action Alliance; and Chichi Ojei, Allied Peoples Movement all filed petitions with the Presidential Election Tribunal on Tuesday 22 March.

According to Maikyau, access to the proceedings will meet the aspirations of the public to participate in the process.

Yakubu Chonoko Maikyau, the President of the Nigerian Bar Association
Yakubu Chonoko Maikyau, the President of the Nigerian Bar Association

Tinubu’s campaign team denies president-elect left the country to escape being served:

The Legal Director of the Tinubu Presidential Campaign Council, Babatunde Ogala denied claims that the President-elect, Asiwaju Bola Tinubu is running away from getting served court papers regarding the petition against his victory at the polls.

Ogala also denied claims that Tinubu travelled out of the country in order to frustrate and delay the process at the election petition tribunal against his victory.

The development happened at a time the LP and PDP camps have accused the Tinubu camp of intentionally delaying the process by avoiding court papers.

Based on the complaint, the election tribunal sitting in Abuja has ordered Obi and Atiku to serve him with copies of petitions seeking to nullify his election through substituted means, specifically through his political party, the All Progressives Congress (APC).

The Chief Spokesman of the Obi-Datti Presidential Campaign Council, Yunusa Tanko, was quoted by the press to have expressed disappointment that the recent vacation trip embarked upon by Tinubu was another ploy to avoid being served the papers.

He said, “They deliberately frustrated the process. That man (Tinubu) practically ran out of the country after evading being served the notice. But our party will serve him the notice through the APC. I am sure they must have received it by now.”

March 30, 2023

Supreme court rules out petition against Tinbu, Atiku

A suit filed by a former Minister of State for Education, Chukwuemeka Nwajiuba, seeking to void the participation of Asiwaju Bola Tinubu of the All Progressives Congress (APC) and Atiku Abubakar of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in the February 25 presidential election was dismissed by the Supreme Court.

A five-member panel of the apex court on Thursday ruled that the appeal by Nwajiuba and a group, the Rights for All International (RAI), was statute barred and had become academic.

The appellants had approached the Supreme Court seeking to disqualify both Tinubu and Atiku by requesting a court order voiding the party primaries that produced them as presidential candidates.

Before heading for the Supreme Court, Nwajiuba and RAI had lost at both the Federal High Court and Court of Appeal in Abuja.

At the Federal High Court, Justice Inyang Ekwo, dismissed the suit, saying the court lacked jurisdiction to hear the suit on the grounds that the plaintiffs do not have the locus standi (the right) to file the suit.

“It is only in this country that an association registered for charitable purposes will venture into partisan politics with such audacious sense of impunity,” Ekwo had said.

Tinubu was officially served a notice of petition through his party, APC

The president-elect of Nigeria, Bola Tinubu was officially served a notice of the petition against his victory at the February 25 polls in the country.

The copies of the petitions filed at the election tribunal by Labour Party presidential candidate, Peter Obi and his counterpart in the Peoples Democratic Party, Atiku Abubakar were confirmed received by the Tinubu camp.

Babatunde Ogala, the Legal Director of the Tinubu Presidential Campaign Council has confirmed the receipt of the petition against his principal.

“Yes, we received copies of both Atiku and Obi’s petition,” he said.

Ogala added that they were not in a hurry to file a response as the law gave a provision for 21 days for them to file a response.

“Go and look at the laws. It says we have up till take 21 days to respond. You journalists shouldn’t put unnecessary pressure on us. I mean, how can they serve me on Tuesday and you are asking when I will file my response when I have a whole 21 days to do that?

“I will suggest that you wait for the day we will file it. You will surely get to know about it,” he stated.

The Spokesman for the APC PCC, Festus Keyamo, and the APC legal adviser, Ahmad El-Marzuq, both confirmed to Punch that the petition has been received and they are working on it.

Bookmark this page for updates on the election tribunals.