PEPC: APM explains how it will prove petition seeking Tinubu's disqualification

PEPC Court

Presidential Election Petition Court, PEPC

By Wandoo Sombo

One of the political parties challenging the result of February 25 presidential election, the Allied Peoples Movement, (APM) has said it needs only one day and will call only one witness to prove its case against the declared winner of the election, Bola Tinubu.

APC said this at the resumption of hearing of petitions against the outcome of the election at the Presidential Election Petition Court, (PEPC) on Monday.

The hearing in the petition filed by the APM has stalled due to the petitioner’s inability to get hold of a Supreme Court judgment delivered on May 26 on a related matter.

The judgement of the Supreme Court had affirmed President Bola Tinubu’s eligibility to contest the Feb. 25 presidential election which was the main issue raised by APC in its petition.

In the judgment delivered on May 26, the apex court dismissed the Peoples Democratic Party’s (PDP) suit which sought to nullify Tinubu’s election based on allegations of double nomination against his running mate, now Vice-President Kashim Shettima.

Just like the PDP, the APM had in its petition marked: CA/PEPC/04/2023, contended that the withdrawal of Kabiru Masari, who was initially nominated as the vice presidential candidate of the APC invalidated Tinubu’s candidacy in view of Section 131(c) and 142 of the 1999 Constitution, as amended.

The party argued that there was a three-week gap between the period that Masari, who is listed as the 5th respondent in the petition, expressed his intention to withdraw, the actual withdrawal of his nomination, and the time Tinubu replaced him with Shettima.

It further argued that Tinubu’s candidature had elapsed as at the time he nominated Shettima as Masari’s replacement.

According to the petitioner, as at the time Tinubu announced Shettima as the vice presidential candidate, he was no longer in a position, constitutionally, to nominate a running mate.

This, according to the APM was since he, (Tinubu) had ceased to be a presidential candidate of the APC having regards to the provisions of Section 142 of the 1999 Constitution.

The petitioner further argued that Masari’s initial nomination activated the joint ticket principle enshrined in the constitution, stressing that his subsequent withdrawal invalidated the said joint ticket.

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The party prayed the court to declare that Shettima was not qualified to contest as the vice presidential candidate of the APC as at Feb. 25 when the election was conducted by INEC.

This, according to the petitioner was on the grounds of having violated the provisions the of Section 35 of the Electoral Act, 2022.

The petitioner therefore asked the court for an order nullifying and voiding all the votes scored by Tinubu in the presidential election in view of his non-qualification as a candidate of the APC.

When the APM was trying to open its case on Monday, counsel to President Tinubu drew the attention of the court to the fact that the main issue the APM raised in its petition, was already decided by the apex court.

Responding, counsel to the Independent National Electoral Commission, (INEC), Mr Abubakar Mahmoud, SAN said he had no objection to the application for an adjournment.

For his part, Olanipekin told the court that he had also read the judgment and he insisted that the judgment had settled the issues raised by the petitioner.
Olanipekin, however, did not oppose the application for an adjournment.

However, counsel to APM, Mr Gideon Idiagbonya told the court that the petitioner had only one witness to call.

“My lords, we intended opening our case today but in the cause of having a pre-trial conference with our sole witness, we realised that certain documents we intend to tender are not in the file handed over to us by the previous counsel.

“In view of this, we ask for another date to enable us open and close our case in one day since we have just one witness,” he said.

The counsel told the court that the petitioner had perused the judgment of the Supreme Court and was of the opinion that his client could still proceed with the petition.

Similarly, counsel to the All Progressives Congress, (APC) Mr Charles Edosanwan, SAN, and Mr G.M Isho, counsel to the 5th respondent, Mr Kabiru Masari did not oppose the application for an adjournment.

The Chairman of the court, Justice Haruna Tsammani, adjourned hearing in the petition until June 21 for the petitioner to open and close its case as counsel had told the court.

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