The Presidential Election Petition Court (PEPC), sitting in Abuja, has postponed its judgment regarding the petition filed by the Allied Peoples Movement (APM) seeking to invalidate President Bola Tinubu’s election.
After all, parties presented their final arguments, the five-member panel, led by Justice Haruna Tsammani, reserved judgment on the matter.
The petition, marked as CA/PEPC/04/2023, named the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC), President Tinubu, Vice President Kashim Shettima, and Mr. Kabiru Masari as the 1st to 5th Defendants.
The APM, represented by lawyer Mr. Andrew Malgwi, SAN, urged the court to remove Tinubu from office and revoke the Certificate of Return issued to him by INEC. In response, all the Defendants requested dismissing the case due to lack of competence.
President Tinubu, represented by a team of lawyers led by Chief Wole Olanipekun, SAN, argued that the APM’s petition lacked merit. He maintained that the Supreme Court had already decided the party’s allegation regarding the nomination of Vice President Shettima, which was the sole issue raised against him.
The APC’s counsel, Prince Lateef Fagbemi, SAN, and INEC’s counsel, Mr. Steven Adehi, SAN, separately urged the court to dismiss the petition. The APC argued that Tinubu’s nomination and eligibility for the presidential election were valid, while INEC supported the election outcome.
After hearing all parties, the panel led by Justice Tsammani announced that the judgment date would be communicated to them.
It is worth noting that the APM concluded its case on July 21 after presenting its sole witness.
In its petition, the APM argued that the withdrawal of Mr. Masari, initially nominated as the Vice-Presidential candidate of the APC, invalidated Tinubu’s candidacy under Section 131(c) and 142 of the 1999 Constitution, as amended.
The party claimed a three-week gap between Masari’s expressed intention to withdraw, the actual withdrawal of his nomination, and Tinubu’s alleged replacement with Senator Kashim Shettima. They argued that Tinubu’s candidacy had expired when he nominated Shettima as Masari’s replacement.
APM contended that Masari’s initial nomination triggered the joint ticket principle in the Constitution, and his subsequent withdrawal invalidated the combined ticket. They requested the court to declare that Shettima was not qualified to contest as the Vice-Presidential candidate of the APC on February 25 when the election took place, citing violations of Section 35 of the Electoral Act, 2022.
The party also sought an order nullifying all votes received by Tinubu in the presidential election due to his disqualification as an APC candidate and an order to invalidate the Certificate of Return issued to the President by INEC.