In anticipation of the imminent judgement delivery by the Presidential Election Petition Tribunal in Abuja this Wednesday, both the military and police forces have unequivocally expressed their commitment to preventing any unlawful activities by potential troublemakers.
Tukur Gusau (Brig. General), the Director of Defence Information, warned those contemplating violent actions that day, urging them to abandon such plans.
In a statement released on Monday, the tribunal disclosed its intention to announce the judgment on Wednesday regarding the petitions challenging the victory of Bola Tinubu in the 2023 presidential election, as declared by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC). It also promised to televise the proceedings on that day.
INEC Chairman Prof. Mahmood Yakubu declared Tinubu the president-elect on March 1, citing his party’s majority vote in the poll.
The tribunal’s justices presiding over the verdict include Chairman Justice Haruna Tsammani, Justice Stephen Adah of the Court of Appeal (Asaba Division), Justice Monsurat Bolaji-Yusuf of the Court of Appeal (Asaba Division), Justices Moses Ugo (Court of Appeal, Kano), and Abba Mohammed of the Ibadan Division of the Court of Appeal.
In the 2023 election, the former Lagos State governor secured 8.8 million votes, defeating the Peoples Democratic Party’s standard bearer, Atiku Abubakar, who received 6.9 million votes, as well as the Labour Party candidate, Peter Obi, with 6.1 million votes, among 15 other candidates. However, five of the 18 political parties that participated in the elections challenged the electoral body’s declaration in court.
Leading the legal charge against Tinubu’s electoral victory are Atiku and Obi, who have petitioned the tribunal to invalidate Tinubu’s triumph in the February 25 presidential election. Other aggrieved parties include the Action Alliance, the Action People’s Party, and the Allied Peoples Movement.
During the tribunal proceedings, the petitions of the Action Alliance (AA) and Action People’s Party (APP) were dismissed by the five-member panel led by Justice Tsammani following the formal withdrawal of the petitions by the parties.
In a comprehensive 66-page petition, Atiku called on the court to annul the election and order a fresh poll due to alleged irregularities in thousands of polling units. He also sought the withdrawal of the certificate of return issued to Tinubu by INEC, citing non-compliance with the Electoral Act of 2022 and allegations of corrupt practices.
Atiku argued that Tinubu’s election was invalid and that he, as the second-highest vote recipient, should be declared the winner.
Tinubu, represented by Chief Wole Olanipekun, SAN, challenged the legal competence of Atiku’s petition, describing him as a consistent serial loser who had switched political parties since 1993 in pursuit of power.
In his joint petition with the PDP marked CA/PEPC/05/2023, the ex-vice president applied to withdraw the certificate of return that was issued to Tinubu by INEC.
He maintained that the declaration of Tinubu as the winner of the presidential election was “invalid because of non-compliance with the provisions of the Electoral Act, 2022.”
In his petition, Peter Obi contended that the election was marred by irregularities and questioned the qualification of Tinubu and his running mate, Kashim Shettima, to contest.
He alleged that Tinubu failed to secure a majority of lawful votes and one-quarter of legal votes in the Federal Capital Territory, asserting that the election was conducted in substantial non-compliance with the law.
Regarding security measures for the judgement day, only accredited individuals, including counsel and representatives of political parties, will be granted access to the courtroom, with the public encouraged to watch proceedings on television for a smooth and secure process.
Gusau emphasised that the Guards Brigade, Army Headquarters Garrison, and other security agencies were prepared to maintain peace and security, warning against any attempts to disrupt the proceedings. The police authorities have also heightened security measures across several states in anticipation of potential protests or demonstrations.
“We will continue to do our work, and if anybody wants to perpetrate any mayhem, we cannot fold our arms and be looking at them. We have to do our job.
‘’On the judgement day, we will maintain our normal vigilance with other security agencies. We can’t be doing our work and see somebody trying to unleash mayhem, and we keep quiet. So, why are we outside (on patrol),” Gusau said in a conversation with the Punch newspaper.
With the impending announcement of the judgment in the presidential election petitions, the Gombe State Police Command issued a stern warning to potential troublemakers, urging them to avoid the state.
The Police Public Relations Officer, Mahid Abubakar, affirmed the command’s preparedness to address any unforeseen events, emphasising that proactive measures have been put in place to safeguard lives and property.
He said, “Any individual or group of persons planning to cause trouble should steer clear from the state; otherwise, they will be arrested and face the full wrath of the law.
“The command is aware of the development and given that the Commissioner of Police, Oqua Etim, has directed adequate security measures be put in place to avert any unforeseen circumstances before, during, and after the judgement.’’