The Presidential Election Petitions Tribunal sitting at the Court of Appeal in Abuja, will on Monday commence the hearing of the petitions challenging the declaration of the All Progressives Congress, APC standard bearer, Bola Tinubu as the President-Elect.
The long-awaited sitting of the Presidential Election Petition court is here, owing to the controversies generated by the 2023 general election and the sense of urgency which some Nigerians had argued should follow the election petitions.
The Labour Party and Peter Obi and the Peoples Democratic Party and Atiku Abubakar are challenging the declaration of the Bola Tinubu as the president-elect, in the just concluded February 25, Presidential Election.
Other petitions slated for the pre-hearing session Action Alliance (AA) and its presidential candidate Mr Solomon Okangbuan Allied People’s Movement (APM) and its presidential candidate, Princess Chichi Ojei and Actions Peoples Party.
They had all succeeded in filling petitions against the presidential election within the time allowed by law.
A Political Analyst, Mr. Paschal Chukwuemeka while siting some examples urged the judiciary to avoid the temptation of giving verdicts based on technicalities but on facts placed before them.
The presidential election petition tribunal judges are yet to be officially declared.
Although, Radio Nigeria gathered from an official familiar with developments within the Court of Appeal and the National Judicial Council that the panel of judges that had already begun sitting on motions-exparte earlier filed by respective petitioners would most likely be retained to continue presiding over the case when pre-hearing and full hearing sessions begin.
The panel of justices are Justice Haruna Tsammani, Justice Stephen Adah, Justice Abba Mohammed, Justice Joseph Ikyegh and the President of the Court of Appeal, Justice Monica Dongban-Mensem.
However, as a tradition of the Court, Justice Monica Dongban-Mensem will on Monday, formally unveil members of the Panel that will adjudicate on all petitions filed.
A Public Affairs Analyst, Mr. David Kure advocated live coverage of all the sittings to allow for transparency and fair hearings.
A Member of a Political Party, Mr. Victor Adah, advised the Tribunal to speedily adjudicate the petitions and give its verdict before the swearing-in of the president elect on the 29th of this month.
On his part, a Lawyer, Mr. Austin Okeh, said that according to the constitution, the seat of the president on May 29, should not remain vacant while its petition is still pending before the Tribunal.
Meanwhile, APC, in its reply to Obi’s petition, prayed the court to dismiss the suit on the grounds that Obi lacked requisite locus standi to institute the petition, because he was not a member of LP at least 30 days to the party’s presidential primary, to be validly sponsored by the party.
It also asked the Tribunal to dismiss the petitions filed by Atiku and the PDP.
INEC, on its part, is asking the court to dismiss the parties argument that results collation were to be done electronically, citing paragraphs 50 to 55 of the regulations and guidelines for the conduct of the 2023 presidential election.
The Chairman of the Independent National Electoral Commission, Prof. Mahmood Yakubu, had on the 1st of March, this year, declared Asiwaju Bola Tinubu, the president-elect on the grounds that his party scored most votes cast in the polls.
Asiwaju Bola had polled 8.8 million to defeat Atiku Abubakar of the Peoples Democratic Party who scored 6.9million, Peter Obi of the Labour Party amassed 6.1million and 15 other candidates.
Reporting by Ifeoma Nwovu; Editing by Annabel Nwachukwu