Asiwaju Bola Tinubu, the President-elect, has requested the Presidential Election Petition Court, sitting in Abuja, to dismiss the petition filed by the Allied Peoples Movement (APM) seeking to nullify his election victory. Tinubu’s lawyers, led by Chief Akin Olujinmi, SAN, argued that the APM’s petition lacked merit and substance.
The court has adjourned till Thursday to allow Tinubu to respond to an application seeking an order to allow live coverage of day-to-day proceedings on petitions seeking to nullify his election.
The APM’s petition argued that Tinubu’s candidacy was invalid due to the withdrawal of Mr Ibrahim Masari, who was initially nominated as the Vice-Presidential candidate of the All Progressives Congress (APC), in view of Section 131(c) and 142 of the 1999 Constitution, as amended.
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According to the petitioner, there was a gap of about three weeks between the period that Masari expressed his intention to withdraw, the actual withdrawal of his purported nomination, and the time Tinubu purportedly replaced him with Senator Kashim Shettima. The party argued that Tinubu’s candidature had elapsed at the time he nominated Shettima as Masari’s replacement.
The APM prayed the court to declare that Shettima was not qualified to contest as the Vice-Presidential candidate of the APC as of February 25, when the election was conducted by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), having violated the provisions of Section 35 of the Electoral Act, 2022.
It also prayed 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.
The APC had, on May 8, filed a preliminary objection to challenge the competence of the petition, which it urged the court to dismiss in its entirety for lacking in merit. Similarly, both Tinubu and Shettima, who are 3rd and 4th respondents, asked the court to either strike out or dismiss the petition.
Tinubu maintained that the petitioner failed to establish a reasonable cause of action to warrant the nullification of his election victory.
During the pre-hearing session on the petition, the parties adopted their answers to the pre-hearing information sheet issued by the court.
The court directed all the parties to identify all applications and documents they would either concede to or object to during a full-blown hearing of the matter. The panel also directed the parties to outline issues to be determined in the petition.
In an application dated May 5, former Vice President and candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Alhaji Atiku Abubakar, urged the court to grant permission for proceedings in the petition he lodged to challenge the return of Tinubu as the winner of the election to be televised. Tinubu’s lead counsel, Prince Lateef Fagbemi, SAN, confirmed receipt of the application and requested time to respond to it.
The court adjourned further pre-hearing proceedings on Atiku’s petition till Thursday, ordering all the parties to sort out all the documents they would either concede to or object to, as well as key issues to be considered with respect to the petition. The court held that it would hear the application for live coverage of its proceedings once all the Respondents filed their responses.