The Allied Peoples Movement, APM, filed a case with the Presidential Election Petition Court, PEPC, in Abuja, and further hearings on that plea against President Tinubu have been postponed until Friday.
Although the petition had previously been consolidated with those submitted by the Labour Party’s Mr Peter Obi and the Peoples Democratic Party’s Alhaji Atiku Abubakar, the five-member panel, chaired by Justice Haruna Tsammani, adjourned APM’s case on Tuesday after being made aware of a recent Supreme Court decision.
As soon as the suit was scheduled for hearing, the President, Asiwaju Bola Tinubu, whose election is being contested by the APM, informed the court that the Supreme Court had dismissed an appeal the PDP had filed to protest his eligibility to run in the February 25 presidential election.
Chief Wole Olanipekun, SAN, Tinubu’s attorney, insisted that PDP’s appeal, which focused on the validity of his client’s selection by the All Progressives Congress, APC, to run for office, touched on the core of APM’s petition.
Olanipekun, SAN, emphasised that the only justification the APM offered in its appeal was that Kashim Shettima, the vice president, received two nominations before the presidential election.
The lead attorney for Tinubu asserted that the Supreme Court had already resolved the matter, adding, “As officers of this court, it behoves us to assist the court in all circumstances and also bring to your lordships’ attention decisions of courts, even from other jurisdictions, that relate to any matter pending before your lordships.
“Even if those decisions do not necessarily align with the interests of our clients. It becomes more imperative if we are aware of or abreast of any decision of the Supreme Court that touches on matters within the proceedings before your lordships.
“In this wise, my lords, this particular petition, which has just been called, in respect of which the sole issue that is being ventilated is the nomination of the 1st Respondent, whom we represent.
“We are aware that the Supreme Court gave a judgement on the issue on Friday, May 23, in respect of appeal No: SC/CV/501/2023, and the parties involved were PDP vs. INEC and 3 Ors, where the apex court considered all the issues and resolved them.
“We promise that within the next two days, certified true copies of the judgement will be made available.
“We will also confirm from the petitioners whether, in light of the Supreme Court decision, there will still be the need to continue with this petition,” he added.
In response, Mr S.A.T. Abubakar, counsel for the APM, requested a postponement so he could obtain and review the aforementioned Supreme Court decision.
According to the learned silk’s arguments, he declared: “My lords, we shall be pleading with this court on behalf of the petitioner to postpone the hearing of this petition so that we may request a copy of the aforementioned judgement from the Supreme Court.
“This is to enable us to examine it and know the effect it has on our petition.
“However, my lords, we shall be praying for the petition to be adjourned till Friday,” the petitioner’s lawyer added.
Prince Lateef Fagbemi, SAN, and Mr Abubakar Mahmood, SAN, attorneys for the APC and the Independent National Electoral Commission, respectively, stated that they were not opposed to the motion for an adjournment.
“My lords, we agree with the petitioners that they need time. I have no objection to their application for an adjournment,” Fagbemi, SAN, added.
Mr Ibrahim Masari, the fourth respondent, did not object to the application through his attorney, Mr Roland Otaru, SAN.
As a result, the panel headed by Judge Tsammani postponed further discussion of the case until Friday.
The All Progressives Congress, APC, initially named Mr Masari as its vice presidential candidate. The APM said in its appeal, CA/PEPC/04/2023, that Masari’s withdrawal rendered Tinubu’s candidature ineligible under Sections 131(c) and 142 of the 1999 Constitution, as amended.
The party contended that there was a lag of almost three weeks between the time Tinubu allegedly replaced Masari with Senator Kashim Shettima and the time Masari, who was listed as the petition’s fifth respondent, declared his desire to withdraw.
Also, it was considered that Tinubu’s candidature had ended when he chose Shettima to succeed Masari.
Tinubu “was no longer in a position, constitutionally speaking, to nominate a running mate since he had ceased to be a presidential candidate of the 2nd Respondent having regard to the provisions of Section 142 of the 1999 Constitution” at the time Shettima was announced as the vice presidential candidate, the petitioner claims.
APM also argued that Masari’s initial nomination activated the joint ticket principle established in the Constitution, highlighting the fact that his subsequent withdrawal rendered the joint ticket illegitimate.
Thus, it requested that the court rule that Shettima was ineligible to run as the APC’s vice presidential candidate as of February 25 because she had broken Section 35 of the Election Act’s rules.
“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 Independent National Electoral Commission, or INEC, should also be ordered to put aside the President’s Certificate of Return.
Since then, the APC and President Tinubu have both launched lawsuits to contest the petition’s competence, which they claim lacks foundation.
The court had given the APM permission to call its proposed lone witness to testify before it following the amalgamation of the three petitions.
Also, it gave INEC one day to respond to the petition while giving Tinubu and Masari two days and one day, respectively, to do the same.
In order to prove that Tinubu was not the legitimate victor of the presidential election, APM informed the court that it would primarily depend on documentary evidence.
Remember that although five petitions were initially submitted to contest the declaration of Tinubu as the election’s winner, the Action Alliance, or AA, withdrew its case on May 8, and the Action Peoples Party, or APP, did the same two days later by also ending further proceedings on its own petition.