Presidential Tribunal Delays Judgment on APM’s Petition against Tinubu
Tinubu By Ikechukwu Nnochiri
The Presidential Election Petition Court (PEPC) in Abuja has deferred its judgment on the petition filed by the Allied Peoples Movement (APM) seeking to invalidate the election of President Bola Tinubu. The five-member panel, led by Justice Haruna Tsammani, reserved the judgment after all parties presented their final arguments.
The defendants in the petition, identified as the 1st to 5th Defendants, include the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC), President Tinubu, Vice President Kashim Shettima, and Mr. Kabiru Masari.
APM, represented by its lawyer, Mr. Andrew Malgwi, SAN, urged the court to remove Tinubu from office and revoke the Certificate of Return issued to him by INEC. On the other hand, all the defendants requested the court to dismiss the case for lack of competence.
President Tinubu, represented by his legal team led by Chief Wole Olanipekun, SAN, argued that the APM’s petition lacked merit. He stated that the only issue raised by the party, concerning the alleged double nomination of Vice President Shettima by the APC, had already been decided by the Supreme Court.
President Tinubu contended that the APM’s petition not only failed to establish a reasonable cause of action against him but also lacked substance.
Both the APC’s counsel, Prince Lateef Fagbemi, SAN, and INEC’s counsel, Mr. Steven Adehi, SAN, separately requested the court to dismiss the petition. The APC argued that Tinubu’s nomination and eligibility to contest the presidential election were without fault, while INEC supported the outcome of the poll.
After hearing all parties involved, the panel led by Justice Tsammani stated that the date of judgment would be communicated to them.
It should be noted that APM concluded its case on June 21 after its sole witness testified before the court.
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Specifically, in its petition, the APM argued that the withdrawal of Mr. Masari, who was initially nominated as the APC’s Vice-Presidential candidate, invalidated Tinubu’s candidacy under Section 131(c) and 142 of the 1999 Constitution, as amended.
The party contended that there was a gap of approximately three weeks between Masari’s expression of intent to withdraw and the actual withdrawal of his nomination, during which Tinubu purportedly replaced him with Senator Shettima.
The APM further claimed that Tinubu’s candidature had expired at the time he nominated Shettima as Masari’s replacement.
According to the petitioner, at the time Tinubu announced Shettima as the Vice-Presidential candidate, he was no longer constitutionally eligible to nominate a running mate, as he had ceased to be a presidential candidate of the APC under the provisions of Section 142 of the 1999 Constitution.
Furthermore, the APM argued that Masari’s initial nomination activated the joint ticket principle in the Constitution, and his subsequent withdrawal invalidated the joint ticket.
The party requested the court to declare that Shettima was not qualified to contest as the APC’s Vice-Presidential candidate on February 25, the date of the election conducted by INEC, as he violated Section 35 of the Electoral Act, 2022.
It also sought an order nullifying all votes received by Tinubu in the presidential election due to his disqualification as an APC candidate, as well as an order to set aside the Certificate of Return issued to the President by INEC.
On May 30, the court suspended further proceedings in the matter after Chief Olanipekun, SAN, counsel to President Tinubu, drew attention to a Supreme Court judgment that addressed the issue raised in the APM’s petition.
Chief Olanipekun, SAN, argued that the appeal filed by the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) against President Tinubu, which was dismissed by the Supreme Court, concerned the legality of his client’s nomination by the APC.
He contended that the Supreme Court’s judgment addressed the substance of the APM’s petition. Tinubu’s lawyer emphasized that the only ground raised by the APM in its petition was the fact that Vice President Shettima had double nominations prior to the presidential election held on February 25.