The Initiative for Research, Innovation, and Advocacy in Development (IRIAD) and the Electoral Hub have jointly called upon the aggrieved parties involved in the 2023 election disputes to pursue their grievances in the Supreme Court. This statement was issued just one day before the landmark judgement.
In a press release, IRIAD emphasised the crucial role of election adjudication in ensuring that elections remain a true reflection of the public will and a cornerstone of public accountability. The organisation stressed the importance of professionalism, fairness, transparency, accountability, integrity, and justice in the legal process, urging judges to decide cases based on their merits and avoid relying on technicalities. It also called for an impartial, non-partisan, and transparent approach, free from external pressures or bias.
“We call on tribunal judges to be impartial, adopt a detribalised and apolitical stance, and ensure that political, religious, ethnic, regional, or personal concerns do not sway the tribunal. Importantly, we expect the election petition court to issue its verdict in a clear, simple, and reasoned way, outlining the facts, the law, and its reasoning. This way, the tribunal can ensure that Nigerians are aware of the issues before it and the factors informing its decision,” part of the statement read.
The Presidential Election Petition Tribunal (PEPT), led by Justice Haruna Tsammani, dismissed all three petitions challenging President Tinubu’s election. These petitions were filed within three weeks of his victory in the February 25 presidential election and were brought by Atiku Abubakar, Peter Obi, and the All Peoples Movement.
The tribunal’s verdict was grounded in the lack of credible evidence supporting claims of corrupt practices or electoral law violations. Additionally, procedural errors by the petitioners’ legal teams resulted in the rejection of witness testimonies and exhibits. The tribunal noted vague paragraphs without specific details of alleged irregularities and rejected the assertion that President Tinubu needed to secure 25 percent of the votes in the federal capital.
Furthermore, the tribunal affirmed that INEC’s failure to upload polling unit results online did not invalidate the election results since the legal collation process remains manual.
In a significant development, the Presidential Election Petition Tribunal imposed fines on parties it deemed to have filed frivolous petitions. The fines, in accordance with Judicial Act 87, sub-section 390 of 1968 (as amended), are as follows:
- APM: N13.6 million
- LP: N47.9 million
- PDP: N23.3 million
The tribunal advised that these fines be paid within 48 hours after the judgment is issued, directing the payments to be deposited into the consolidated account of the Appeal Court at the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN).
Parties Reject Judgement
In swift responses to the verdict, both the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and the Labour Party (LP) rejected the decision of the Presidential Election Petitions Tribunal (PEPT), which upheld Bola Tinubu’s victory in the February 2023 poll. In separate statements, both parties expressed their disagreement with the verdict and announced their intentions to consult their legal teams to determine the next course of action.
Meanwhile, President Tinubu has since expressed heartfelt gratitude in a recent press statement released for the unanimous decision of the PEPT, which confirmed his election victory. He praised the people of Nigeria for their patience and the professionalism of the tribunal. Tinubu emphasised his belief in the Nigerian legal system’s ability to deliver justice, highlighting the significance of respecting the judicial process and its role in advancing democracy, especially during challenging times for democratic principles in Africa.