Presidential Polls: Tribunal warns against using technicalities, delay strategies

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The Presidential Election Petition Tribunal (PEPT), which met yesterday under tight security, issued a warning to all parties not to use technicalities and delay tactics that might impede the timely resolution of the five petitions it was considering.

Justice Haruna Tsamani, the five-member tribunal’s chairman, issued the warning during his inaugural speech to formally begin the pre-hearing session.

180 days are given to the tribunal to complete its task.

Justice Stephen Adah, Justice Monsurat O. Bolaji Yusuf, Boloukuromo Moses Ugo, and Justice Abba Mohammed are additional panelists.

Bola Tinubu of the All Progressives Congress (APC) garnered 8,794,726 votes, according to the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), to win the election. With 6,984,520 votes, Atiku Abubakar of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) finished second, and Peter Obi received 6,101,533 votes. Atiku and Obi had petitioned the tribunal to have Tinubu’s victory overturned because they were unhappy with the outcome.

At around 9:15 am, Justice Tsammani made an opening statement to the court pre-hearing, assuring everyone that they would be happy with the decision made at the conclusion of the case and advising attorneys to avoid making frivolous requests that might cause delays in the court’s proceedings.

“Let’s refrain from making sensational remarks as we begin hearing the petitions. Let’s keep in mind that the country’s safety and interests come first.

“We should avoid pointless applications and objections to free up time for the case’s actual merits rather than pointless technicalities.

“Let’s work together so that everyone can feel confident that justice has been served.”

Lead attorneys for the various parties vowed to work with the tribunal to see that the justice in the petitions before it is done.

Chief Wole Olanipekun, the president-elect’s attorney, assured the court of the full cooperation of his team and argued that the issue needed to be resolved without resorting to pointless technicalities.

Chief Chris Uche, the leader of the legal team defending PDP and Atiku presidential candidates, similarly stated that they would do everything in their power to aid the court in carrying out its duties.

When it comes down to it, I am very confident that the petitions will have an impact on Nigeria’s jurisprudence and constitutionalism, said Dr. Livy Uzoukwu, who is speaking on behalf of the LP and its candidate, Mr. Peter Obi. We will make every effort to help your Lordships.

Through its attorney, Mr. Abubakar Mahmood, INEC expressed its confidence in the court’s ability to fairly decide all of the petitions that are before it.

Mahmood said, “My lords, we are confident that justice will be served in the end.

The Action Alliance (AA), Action Peoples Party (APP), and Peter Obi & Labour Party (LP) petitions, each designated CA/PEPC/01/2023, CA/PEPC/02/2023, and CA/PEPC/03/2023, were the three petitions scheduled for hearing at the tribunal’s preliminary session.

The petition the AA filed against INEC and Tinubu of the APC was withdrawn, which was the session’s high point. The legal counsel for the party, Chief Oba Maduabuchi, had asked for the petition’s further development to be halted. The senior attorney informed the court that a withdrawal notice was submitted on May 3 to that effect. As a result, Justice Tsamani dismissed the petition after learning that the respondents had not raised any objections to the withdrawal.

The All Progressives Congress (APC), the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), and Bola Ahmed Tinubu are the three respondents to the Action Peoples Party (APP) petition, which is also scheduled for the pre-hearing session.Governor Simon Lalong of Plateau State, who spoke on behalf of the APC, Mr. Obi, and chieftains from different parties were present for the opening proceedings.

Protesters request that the Tribunal halt Tinubu’s inauguration.

Drama was present during the session as a group of protesters, claiming to be a coalition of civil societies, pleaded with the court to halt the inauguration on the grounds that there were still a number of unresolved matters involving the APC candidate. However, after briefly gathering outside the Court as proceedings inside the tribunal continued, they were dispersed by security personnel.

•Atiku, PDP wants proceedings to be broadcast live

In a petition dated May 5, Atiku requested that the court issue an order instructing the parties and the court’s registry on the guidelines for allowing media professionals and their equipment into the courtroom.

In their application, their team of attorneys, led by Mr. Chris Uche, argued that because the electoral dispute in question had a peculiar constitutional dimension and involved millions of Nigerians, it was of public interest and that they had a constitutional right to receive.

In order to fulfill its constitutional obligation to hold proceedings in public, courts may choose to grant the public access to them in person or online.

The maxim that justice must not only be done, but must also be seen to be done is in line with the enormous and tremendous technological advancements and developments in Nigeria and beyond, including the current trend by this court towards embracing electronic procedures, virtual hearing, and electronic filing. Accordingly, a departure from the rules to allow a regulated televising of the proceedings in this matter is in accordance with this maxim.

Television coverage of court proceedings is not unusual for this court and will boost public trust.

Similar recommendations were made in the communique issued by the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA) following its National Executive Committee meeting in Birnin Kebbi on March 23. The NBA had pleaded with the court system to permit live broadcasting of court proceedings on election petitions, especially the presidential election cases.

The initiative had also received support from a group operating under the auspices of Leaders of Thought and Legal Icons.

Nigerians were encouraged to sign an online petition in support of the project by the group.

A human rights attorney named Mr. Femi Falana supported the calls for election petition trials to be broadcast live.

The application hearing date has not been set.

The project had also received support from a group operating under the auspices of Leaders of Thoughts and Legal Icons. In order to achieve this, the group issued an appeal on commonbliceng, an unbiased online forum, asking Nigerians to support the project by signing up.

In a similar vein, prominent constitutional lawyer Prof. Ben Nwabueze and key members of Project Nigeria Movement (PNM), a group of eminent thinkers in the nation, have backed calls for live broadcasting of election petition trials. PNM is led by leading human rights attorney Femi Falana.

In a similar vein, Prof. Tonnie Iredia, a communications expert and former director general of the Nigeria Television Authority, called for the telecast of election petition proceedings in Nigeria in accordance with the 1999 Constitution (As Amended) in an incisive paper that was published.

 

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