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Presidential Election Tribunal: PDP expresses confidence in judiciary

Presidential Election Tribunal: PDP expresses confidence in judiciary

Ahead of the judgement by the Presidential Election Petition Tribunal (PEPT), the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) has expressed confidence in the ability of the judiciary to deliver fair judgement that will be acceptable to parties concerned.

Pedro Obaseki, director of strategy and research of the PDP presidential campaign Council, fielding questions from journalists in Abuja on Wednesday, expressed confidence that the judges will summon the courage to address issues raised by the opposition parties in the 2023 Presidential election.

Obaseki who specifically referenced the petition by the Allied Peoples Movement (APM) seeking the nullification of President Bola Tinubu and Kashim Shetimma’s victory in the 2023 election, noted that the “issue of eligibility is key”.

According to him, “ The first thing is eligibility, if ten people follow me to run a race I can begin to question who won, only if those ten people were qualified, that is what has been thrown up by the APM petition.

“It looked at whether Tinubu could have run for the polls, and if he could, was his nomination by his party valid. This is a constitutional problem, a question that the court must answer because it is the foundation of the entire race from the beginning.

The presiding judge, Justice Haruna Tsammani had recently reserved judgement in the petition until a date to be communicated to the parties, shortly after they had adopted their final written addresses.

He also announced that the tribunal will rule on the APM petition on the same day as those of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP)/Atiku Abubakar and Peter Obi/Labour Party (LP).

The APM which is challenging INEC’s declaration of President Bola Tinubu as winner of the 2023 presidential election, based its arguments on the grounds that Vice President Kashim Shettima, had double nominations as a Senatorial and Vice Presidential candidate before the February 25 polls.

The party listed INEC, President Tinubu, Vice President Shettima, the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) and Ibrahim Masari as respondents in the petition.
The party prayed the tribunal to nullify Tinubu’s election on the grounds that the process through which the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) declared him the winner was “flawed”.

Obaseki, who is also a lawyer, said “ If you look at what APM has done, they started by why and when they can question an election and stated three clear provisions, when elections can be questioned, such as section 134 of the electoral act of 2022 as amended.

“In section 134 says the person whose election is questioned must at the time of election not qualified to contest, so they are going to prove that Tinubu and Shettima were not qualified to contest and the three things are clear.

“One, section 35 of the electoral act states that where a candidate allows himself to be nominated by more than one political party or in more than one political constituency , his nomination shall be void, Nigeria is a constituency if you are running for presidency, a state is a constituency when you are running for Governor, a senatorial district is a constituency when you are running for senate, so as at the time of 2023 election in February and March , both the slot of the Presidency, vice Presidency and the Borno South senatorial district were three different constituency.

Read also: APC: Kyari assumes office as acting chair, Omisore bows out

“As at the day of the nomination process Mr Shettima had two nominations, that is a statement of fact. That is what this petition by the APM has gone ahead to prove beyond reasonable doubt, the reasonable doubt will only occur if the petition is based on hear say.

He argued that the APM petition is based on the correspondences of the APC and INEC.
“ There are five respondents to the petition, INEC, APC, Bola Tinubu, Shettima and Masari. The electoral act states clearly as well as the constitution in tandem because we are looking at both section 1 (31), (42) of the constitution of the federal Republic of Nigeria and it states clearly that upon nomination, you can no longer be replaced unless if you voluntarily withdraw in writing or you die. Upon these scenerios the party must hold another primary within 14 days and this is not something that is strange.

“First week of February 2023, the governorship candidate of the PDP in Abia state died and within 12 days, a primary was held to replace him because that is what is stipulated by law. There are two things; a primary must be held and it must be within 14 days.

He declared however, that in the case of the APC candidature, neither was a fresh primaries held to get a new vice president.

According to him, “ Because Tinubu won a primary, based on that primary, he choose a Masari. He choose Masari in June and called him a place holder, the name placeholder is unknown to law, or our constitution and unknown to the electoral act.

“In the final submission by APC, in their reply, they could not discountenance that they wrote the letter, they could not deny that Masari resigned on the 24th , they could not deny that they replaced him on the 15th of July, that is 21 days latter, neither could they fault the constitution and the electoral act that stipulates the time frame which non of us can change. Because the qualification of the vice Presidential candidate is not separable and discardable.”

Obaseki who also made reference to the case filed by the PDP on the same issue, said the PDP’s case was different because the election was yet to hold as at July, 2022 when the case was dismissed at the Supreme Court.

“People might be wondering that the Supreme Court did not say something about that when PDP went to court, that is very different. The PDP went to court in July 2022 to contest the double nomination and place holder position which is also unknown to law with Mr Masari and Shettima and the court ruleds without looking at the substantive case. On the Locus, does PDP has the right to question an internal issue of the APC when the election has not held, because you cannot be guilty of a crime that has not been committed, until an election is held, you cannot hold anybody responsible for fielding a wrong candidate, except you are member of the APC,” he said.