Since 6 September when the Presidential Election Petitions Tribunal, PEPT that commenced hearing on 8 May gave their verdict aimed at resolving the disputes arising from the 25 February 2023 presidential elections, most Nigerians have been scratching their heads in confusion as they attempt to decipher the judgement that was rendered in legal jargons.
The aim is to simplify the verdict by stripping it of the mumbo jumbo that members of the legal profession
usually apply in conveying their rulings.
That is necessary for majority of Nigerians to understand and reach their conclusions on whether justice had been done based on the strict application of the principles of administration of Justice.
So, the verdict is being explained with the simplest terms for the easy understanding of the masses who need to be carried along in the spirit of inclusivity.
As it may be recalled the petitions were filled by three (3) of the eighteen (18) political parties that contested the election.
And the aggrieved parties that approached the PEPT are Peoples Democratic Party,PDP, Labor Party, AP, and Allied Peoples Movement,APM.
All the three petitioners are advancing different reasons for seeking the nullification of the 2023 presidential election and the reversal of the declaration by the lndependent National Electoral Commission,INEC that the APC candidate,Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu is the winner of the contest and therefore the president of Nigeria which is a role that he is currently playing dexterously to the chagrin of the opposition.
To simplify the issues that PEPT had to adjudicate upon and their verdict,this piece will outline them, item by item for easy understanding of the masses.
Hopefully, if it is not too much to ask the judiciary, it would serve the best interest of the masses,if it would render a version of the ruling in the language that the hoi-poloi can easily comprehend.
And better still if media outfits that present news in pidgin English,such as the British Broadcasting Corporation,BBC would also break the judgement down for the understanding of the masses to prevent them from being manipulated by those known for engaging in disinformation.
Now,the grounds for seeking the nullification of the election of President Bola Tinubu from APM’s prism is that then vice presidential candidate ,Senator Kashim Shettima,Tinubu’s running mate was nominated twice as a senator and vice presidential candidate,which is in breach of Electoral Act 2022.
Unfortunately for APM and PDP that petitioned on that ground, there is an established Supreme Court ruling that has made it clear that issues around nomination of candidates for elections are pre-election matters and the PEPT’s mandate is for post election matters. The petition was therefore dismissed for lack of merit.
With respect to the LP which accused the INEC of massively rigging the presidential election in favor of APC and her candidate president Tinubu,the party could not present incontrovertible evidence to that effect as required by law.
Rather it’s allegation turned out to be based on mere emotions as no credible witnesses,particularly party agents who should have showed up with proof of evidence in the form of original results sheets in their respective polling units,a copy of which by INEC guidelines and Electoral Act 2022,party agents are supposed to be in possession.
Instead of hard evidence,rumors and third party materials sourced sometimes from the internet, including the report of international election monitors of the 2023 elections were tendered as evidence. And the alleged non reliance on results uploaded on lReV- INEC electronic portal was also held up as evidence against the authenticity of the election of president Tinubu.
By and large ,LP could not prove its case because plea was unsubstantiated with admissible evidence and the Electoral Act 2022 does not demand that elections results are only authentic if they are obtained from Biometric Accreditation and Verification System,BVAS and passed through IReV portal as LP had argued before the PEPT.
Ideally,the international observers report which was tendered as evidence ought to have been submitted directly by them,as opposed to sourcing the report that LP presented as a third party,perhaps without the express consent of the authors of the report.
Also,downloading from online sources the Form EC8 A that it claimed to have been mutilated by riggers failed to pass the rule of due diligence because they were sourced online, instead of hard copies coming from party agents who are by lNEC guidelines and Electoral Act 2022 supposed to be in possession of such documents.
The letter and spirit of law of our country is that the onus is on the accuser to prove his/her allegations against the defendant.
In the absence of that and
on the above stated grounds,the LP petition was declared as lacking merit and dismissed by PEPT.
Regarding the PDP,the authenticity of President Tinubu’s degree from Chicago State University,CSU which the party and the Presidential candidate,Turaki Atiku Abubakar claim is fake,is the ground for seeking the disqualification of Asiwaju Tinubu as presidential candidate.
That is coupled with the allegation that President Tinubu was also criminally indicted in the United States of America, USA via confiscation of $460 belonging to him by US authorities,which if it were to be true,would have contravened the rules in Nigerian statutes book with respect to being eligible to contest for the office of the president.
Whereas it is the right of the petitioners to make the allegations, they are patently false because the CSU has confirmed that Tinubu attended the university and earned a bachelors degree in 1979 which he tendered to INEC.
In addition,the US authorities have also via her embassy in Nigeria since 2003 stated that President Tinubu has no criminal records in that country as being alleged by his traducers.
So,PEPT also dismissed PDP’s petition on the ground that it is without merit.
To think that after all the hype by three (3) petitioners that they were holding President Tinubu by the jugular, PEPT has declared that their claims are all fantasy and without basis in law, is stunning to me and such an anticlimax in the drama of presidential election 2023.
What it suggests is that the fifteen (15 ) other parties that took part in the contest and accepted their defeat are indeed much more savvy than the big three (3) that decided to throw the gauntlet by proceeding to the PEPT with gusto and fanfare. That is because after all the grandstanding their case ended up literally in a puff of smoke .
One is embarrassed on behalf of the heavy weights in the legal profession, parading perhaps up to a total of fifty (50) Senior Advocates of Nigeria,SAN,if indeed they have only been on a journey of discovery,and fishing as PEPT aptly put it,after the four(4) months(8 May to 6 September) that it took to deliberate on the matter.
In a manner reminiscent of holding onto straw,some supporters of the petitioners have alleged that the (eighty)80 page verdict had the water mark/imprimatur of APC,as such it was written by the APC legal team for PEPT.
Glaringly,they are chasing shadows instead of controverting the ruling of the PEPT adjudicators that the claim of massive rigging of the election by INEC in favor of APC and President Tinubu lacked merit basically because the petitioners failed to produce evidence to support their claims.
Rather,their claim of victory over the declared winner,President Bola Tinubu which was based on mere emotions and sheer intimidation as opposed to relying on the presentation of incontrovertible facts presented before the judges to substantiate their allegations, as ruled by the PEPT jurists remain unchallenged.
Fair enough, and as a redeeming factor,the petitioners have fourteen (14) days to challenge the ruling of the PEPT by proceeding to the Supreme Court.
That is counting from the 6th of September when the verdict was given.
Would the combatants slugging it out with INEC and APC in the tribunal which they alleged had robbed them of victory still continue on the same trajectory of having the expectations that they would prevail in the matter based on emotions rather than on points of law which is usually the determinant of who looses and wins in law courts,even in the Supreme Court that may look beyond undiluted application of the law?
Clearly, it is based on that premise that the judgement of PEPT which is contrary to the expectations of the petitioners that they would prevail by relying on emotions and intimidation which are the currency of transactions in the court of public opinion,rather than points of law which deal with facts and figures such as hard evidence that are the guardrail and fulcrum for the administration of justice.
So,in the event that they head to the apex court ,they would be counting on being helped by public opinion based on the negative sentiments that have been wiped up against the incumbent president that they expect may swing the pendulum in their favor in light of the fact that in the Supreme Court other factors beyond pure legal principles are considered.
While those assessing the judgment from the prism of emotions allege that there are inconsistencies in the election tribunal’s decisions ,those applying the lenses of intimidation,have equally been cooking up conspiracy theories against the judges on the tribunal to fault their judgement.
But,it would appear as if the PEPT envisaged that their verdict would be subjected to severe public scrutiny.
That is in view of the hoopla and negative sentiments that had been stirred up against the judiciary and in particular the five judges that make up the tribunal.
Hence the judgement was announced by the adjudicator publicly via live television broadcast and online streaming of the judgement to any and everyone all over the world keen on being fully abreast of political developments in Nigeria.
Notably,the false claim was dismissed by responsible members of the public because it has remained un authenticated and therefore figment of the imagination of the authors that the Chief Justice of Nigeria,CJN Justice Olukayode Ariwoola secretly met with President Tinubu in London while he was president- elect and that a justice amongst the team of five judges that are part of the tribunal had resigned in protest against being pressured to compromise the judgement, including the “Eyes on Judiciary” campaign in the social media which was later shifted to the traditional media space before it was sanctioned by relevant authorities after the judicial complaint that it was an act of intimidation.
Unlike the judgements by the Supreme Court in 2008 declaring Rotimi Amaechi as the winner of the governorship election in Rivers state held in 2007 when he was not on the ballot for the main contest after being delisted from INEC list,even though he had earlier won the party’s primary election; and another Supreme Court judgement in favor of senator Hope Uzodiinma that made him the current governor of lmo state by counteracting the decision of INEC that had placed him as 4th runner up amongst the contestants for the governorship role and declared Emeka Ihiedoha the governor.
These are judgements that were so opaque that it put the judiciary in the eye of the storm.
Perhaps ,it is owing to the bitter lessons from that experience that the PEPT decided to be very transparent in its current judgement by highlighting all the points of law applied and citing precedents to arrive at its verdict on election 2023.
Commendably, in order to put everyone on the same page,PEPT decided to transmit its ruling live and direct to the homes of all Nigerians that may be interested in hearing the verdict first hand via live television broadcast and streaming to anyone in the world that has interest in Nigeria’s political developments.
The targeted audience includes the numerous election observers from across the world who were in Nigeria to monitor the exercise and had subsequently offered their opinions after the 2023 electioneering process .
The life broadcast and streaming which took several hours to deliver, some say a better part of thirteen (13 ) hours stretching from dawn to dusk and with all the judges on the tribunal taking turns to read the verdict is unprecedented and therefore a master stroke by the judiciary in my judgement.
Apparently, it was intentional and meant to cure the mutual suspicion between the judiciary that has been resenting the intimidation and the opposition politicians who had wiped up negative sentiments that had cast slur on its integrity.
As a panacea to the mutual suspicion,l had written piece titled: “Judiciary On Trial’:Televising Tribunal Proceedings To The Rescue? “ published in my column on 16 May in which l argued that televising the proceedings would be the way out for all the parties after the PDP and APC demanded and the Nigerian Bar Association,NBA endorsed the demand.
As l wrote back then in my column and which was widely published on other traditional as well as online media platforms:
“At inception of the outgoing administration,the third (3) branch of government (judiciary) had appeared like the last bastion as it had remained in large part untainted.
“But after a short period,it wilted owing to the onslaught by the executive arm through undue interference that has blighted it to the extent that most Nigerians no longer see it as infallible and unbiased.
“And it is precisely why the judiciary is now on ‘trial’ which is such an irony because it
used to be law breakers that would be on trial by the judiciary.”
But the court ruled against televising the process for the simple reason that the tribunal is not a theatre for drama.
At the time that the courts made the ruling,the justification was not quite clear. So,it was not welcome by a significant number of the masses, especially because the proceedings by the panel on Human Rights Violation Investigation Commission, popularly known as OPUTA panel, (because it was headed by retired Justice Chukwudifu Oputa) was transmitted live.
Amongst the many high-points/ drama was that Gens. Muhamadu Buhari, Ibrahim Babangida,and Sani Abacha, past military heads of state who were accused of committing some of the rights violations were subpoenaed to appear before the panel but failed to do so ,without any consequences.
It is fascinating that in the case of the PEPT, while the defendants APC and its presidential candidate Asiwaju Bola Tinubu has 12 SANs in a legal team of 50 lawyers,the PDP petitioners features a team made up of 17 SANs,and LP fielded 12 SANs while lNEC has 9 SANs with APM having at least one, which brings the number to a total of at least 50 SANs.
The unprecedented convergence of 50 SANs for a single matter,which is a harvest of senior legal minds in our country is monumental and epochal.
And the PEPT made up for denying Nigerians the pleasure of watching the legal theatrics live on television by making them watch at least 12 hours of the ‘learned’ gentle men of the bar sleep and even snore in the course of delivering the Judgement.
If the event was not about a very serious matter with implications that can make or mar our nation , l would have tagged it an adult version of ‘ Big Brother’ which is a live television show where some of our youths are confined in a house for 90 days (3 months) living a communal live in the full glare of the public via live television broadcast.
Before dwelling further on the offensive and defensive fallouts of 2023 presidential elections petitions tribunal,it is imperative that the 97 million Nigerian electorate who collected their Permanent Voters Cards,PVS and the 37 million who eventually exercised their civic duty of voting for their choice of president on 25 February are commended for their patience and understanding by waiting for the tribunal up to give their verdict on 6 September (better part of six (6) months) about who truly won the mandate to become the President of Nigeria.
One only needs to consider the peaceful atmosphere prevailing in Nigeria (except a few incendiary comments by the aggrieved) since the election was held some six (6) months ago,compared to the mayhem that took place in Kenya in 2007/2008 and other African countries after their general elections where significant number of innocent lives were lost owing to crisis after election results were announced triggering violence: to appreciate why Nigerian electorate needs to be commended for exemplary conduct of Nigerian voters.
That is simply because aggrieved voters in the aforementioned countries had taken the laws into their hands instead of allowing the rule of law to prevail,as we have impressively done in Nigeria through the PEPT process that ended on 6 September.
The preemptive actions of the security agencies,particularly the Department of State Security, DSS has also helped in maintaining the stability in the country by paying attention to the maintenance of security and safety in these turbulent times.
Fortunately, our country’s 1999 constitution as amended and the Electoral Act 2022 made provision for those not satisfied with the PEPT verdict to advance their case to the Supreme Court.
As we may recall,eighteen (18) political parties were involved in the 2023 general elections contest that started in 25 February and ended on 18 March of this year.
Of the 18 parties,three,PDP, LP and APM proceeded to the tribunal to challenge the victory of Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu of the APC as the winner of the presidential contest.
To contextualize the current situation,it would further help if we unpack the issues in contention strictly from the optics of point of Law ,Emotions and lntimidation.
And the practice in the USA would be the benchmark for this analysis because that is the origin of the presidential system of government in practice in our country.
After the unprecedented 12-13 hours long judgement of 6 September which commenced by 10am and ended very late into the night with the five( 5) judges taking turns to read the 800 pages long judgement full of legal jargons,my intention in this presentation is to try to break down the PEPT verdict for the better understanding of the ‘unlearned’ people amongst us,since lawyers are good at referring to themselves as ‘learned’ gentlemen/ladies.
On point of law,the judgement from the five (5) man PEPT seemed to be pretty straight forward, so much so that the PEPT judges lampooned the lawyers who took the brief from the political parties to argue what they pointed out as mostly issues that had been settled by the Supreme Court rulings in the past.
Amongst these are the requirement for a candidate to be deemed to have won the presidential contest only if he has garnered twenty five (25%) or two third (2/3) majority of votes in the 36 states of the federation and the Federal Capital Territory,FCT.
Being that our presidential system of government is modeled after that of the United States of America,USA ,the 2/3rd majority votes proviso in our 1999 constitution can be said to be a Nigerian variant of the US electoral college system .
Historically,after the electoral college system produced results that led to ties in presidential contests that produced unsavory outcomes which complicated the presidential system,it was decided that it had to be untangled by correcting the identified imperfections.
Hence there had to be a 23rd amendment of the US constitution in 1961.
That amendment allowed electoral college delegates to be assigned to Washington, DC (the capital of the US) which hitherto had no delegates and it is analogous to the FCT,Abuja which is Nigeria’s capital.
The point here is that in the US,Washington, DC that hitherto never had electoral college delegates,it was allowed in 1961 to be upgraded to a state level with same status as the 50 other states.
And it was done in response to complications in previous presidential elections,similar to the type currently being experienced in Nigeria whether the question of 2/3rd majority votes in the FCT has thrown up the challenge on if it is a state or a jurisdiction with special privileges.
If the current PEPT judgement is affirmed by the Supreme Court, the ball would be in the court of the legislators of the 10th National Assembly to finally untangle the web by clarifying the true status of Abuja without further ambiguity,so that the crisis would not reoccur in the future.
While the lawmakers are at it,they should also take note that although it became statutory for delegates to be appointed in Washington, DC, which is the capital territory,it was stated categorically that the number of delegates for Washington, DC must be less than the number presented by the states with the least number of delegates.
My interpretation of the clarification of the status of Washington,DC which is the equivalent of the FCT is that it does not posses the status of a state.
Rather it is inferior to it.
Hence it is not addressed as a state,and it has no governor, state legislature or other paraphernalia of a state.
That being the case,the crisis of whether wining 2/3rd majority of the votes from the FCT is a requirement for a candidate to have fulfilled all the requirements to become a president in Nigeria appear to have been settled by the PEPT.
Again,that is if the decision is affirmed by the Supreme Court.
Meanwhile, following the PEPT ruling,the indigenes of the FCT are allegedly agitating that they should be granted the status of a state,complete with a governor,three (3) senators,house of representatives members and all the privileges accorded a state.
Against the backdrop of what obtains in the US ,the source of Nigeria’s presidential system,the demand for the FCT attaining a full state status ,if it is real, appears to be sheer acts of rabble rousing and nonsensical.
Also the failure to meet some basic points of law by some of the plaintiffs, particularly the LP that needed to prove their allegations of massive rigging nationwide by INEC in favor of then presidential candidate Tinubu is a great disappointment to most Nigerians, particularly the youth.
But based on the legal dictum: “he who alleges must prove’ which is underscored by evidence act,contrary to the expectations of the youths that constitute the bulk of LP supporters ,the petitioner’s lawyers failed to present hard evidence to the PEPT.
From my finding,to prove that an election was rigged is a gigantic task. It is like passing the Carmel’s head through the eye of a needle.That is because of the huddles inherent in the 1999 constitution of our country that a petitioner has to scale to proof that a presidential election was rigged.
The bottlenecks include the requirement that the party and the presidential candidate making the allegation of massive rigging must produce in court party agents as witness from the polling units in 774 local governments in the country within a very short space of time,which is the provision in the statutes books.
The total number of party agents that would be required to testify is estimated to be 133,000.
To put in context how difficult it can be ,if not impossible to prove that a presidential election was massively rigged as alleged by LP,imagine being asked by a quiz panel not just to tell the date that the famous Titanic (British luxury passenger liner) sank,but also to name the 1,496 people that were onboard the ship in one minute.
That would be a mission impossible because of the tightness of time ,right ?
In my reckoning that is the equivalent of attempting to prove that a presidential election was rigged entails in a Nigerian election petition tribunal.
For crying out loud ,how would a petitioner produce 133,000 party agents with potent material evidence within the window of one week to back the claim that elections were rigged massively as the LP has alleged ?
Being aware of the high hurdles to scale and realizing that getting the evidence from party agents is unattainable simply because gathering 133,000 party agents together in one place to testify is literally an impossible feat,why did the LP embark on what apparently is a wild goose chase?
Is it an antic to sustain the momentum by getting the party supporters riled up
as they get pumped up with expectations and hope that they are on the cusp of ‘reclaiming their mandate’ and as such continue to be upbeat until the activities dovetail into the next election circle ?
By the same token,the allegation by APM that Senator Kasim Shetima contested for two positions by obtaining and returning forms for both senatorial contest and the running mate to the presidential candidate of the APC Senator Bola Tinubu,the PEPT held that it was a pre election matter which had been overtaken by events and therefore irrelevant basically because what the PEPT was mandated to address are post election matters.
With the abundance of jurisprudence on pre and post election matter, why did the lawyers embark on the mission?
Is it also with a view to remain relevant in the scheme of things?
Also, the PDP and its presidential candidate’s legal battle with Chicago State University,CSU, (the alma mata of President Tinubu) in the quest to obtain his degree certificate and school record looked like it would be a big bang.
But that has also turned out to be another antithesis of sorts with the university confirming that President Tinubu is a bonafide alumnus of the institution.
And to booth, it has also been made clear that the university was barred by law from disclosing the personal record of president Tinubu or any other student that acquired education in from the US system without his/her consent,unless compelled by the law courts.
For instance l know that l can not have access to the academic records of my adult children in school in the US,if they choose not to share them with me. That is because the school authorities would not avail me of their records if they do not give the required authorization.
It is the same same letter and spirit that drives confidentiality for students and their institutions of learning that applies to doctor/patient relationship and banker/customer relationship.
So why was there so much song and dance about CSU not releasing President Tinubu’s diploma (degree certificate) which is clearly against the US law?
And why did it take so long for it to dawn on the very erudite and notable PDP legal team that should have partnership with US lawyers that are conversant with the system ? Perhaps in the euphoria of the political season, that basic information must have skipped their mind.
Is it a mere oversight or something they were aware of, yet they decided to stir up tension in the already very volatile polity by making a mountain out of a mole hill?
To serve as deterrent to the politicians who are not sportsmanly enough to accept defeat without heating up the polity and lawyers that enjoy embracing what l would like to term legal adventurism,the PEPT should have fined the three (3) political parties for filing frivolous petitions and also sanctioned the lawyers for not advising their clients appropriately.
Regarding the intimidation element,as is
typical of the realities of life, while the main opposition PDP has an albatross that goes by the name Nyesom Wike hanging over it menacingly like a nemesis , the LP has the burden of Lamidi Apapa, a faction chairman of the party that the OBIDIENTs passionately despise to contend with.
And the publicity secretary of the embattled chairman’s faction of the LP Dr Arabambi,did not fail to seize the opportunity to extract a pound of flesh by making disparaging comments about the LP: “How does anyone claim to have won an election based solely on pejoratives, assumptions,vague rhetorics and zero evidence pointing to such as being the case,but in the expectation that the actual winner would be disqualified and by some stroke of black magic the candidate in the 3rd place would suddenly be declared winner without proof of having scored the majority is absolute rascality on display by Peter Obi and Julius Aburi”.
The lamidi Apapa’s jab at LP ties in smugly with the position of the Nobel laureate, Prof Wole Soyinka, who in far away South Africa ,while attending an event held in his honor last week had accused LP members of knowing that their 2023 presidential candidate,Mr Peter Obi did not win the contest,but elected to claim that he had won and was thus engaging in what he termed ‘Gbajue’ which is a Yoruba euphemism for intimidation of both the judges and Nigerian masses that do not agree with them.
The social critic who had earlier in the year faced-off with the OBIDIENTs, (LP devotees) that have the penchant for literally ‘roasting’ anyone that makes any statement contrary to their belief that LP and her candidate won the presidential contest,had held up a television station in south west Nigeria in 1965 in the bid to prevent the announcement of an election result that he believed was rigged:
“They were going to send some of the hardliners, proud young people into the street to demonstrate,” he said.
“I’m also ready to be among such demonstrators but only on the banner of truth not on lies, and deceit” he concluded .
Prof Soyinka’s explanation that there is a difference between his action some 58 trees ago and the acts of intimidation that the OBIDIENTs are currently being accused of engaging in,did not cut the ice with the LP devotees.
So,the erudite scholar, poet and human rights activist was counter accused of being a hypocrite by his traducers.
Who else to lead the charge than the national publicity secretary of LP, Mr Obiora Ifoh who fired back a nasty salvo:
“The whole world followed the 2023 general election in Nigeria and there was a global condemnation of not only the outcome of the election but also the process, particularly, the ‘glitching’ incidence that occured only during the transmission of presidential result to IREV. As someone who is known to demonstrate based on truth, we didn’t hear as much as a whisper from Kongi reminding INEC that it has to stand by its word”.
Again,in my view,a war of words is far better than the shedding of blood that trails violent clashes which was witnessed in 2011 in Nigeria and has been experienced at a much bigger scale in other jurisdictions in east Africa in particular.
To be frank,the exchange of hot words between the victors and losers in the INEC declared result is part of politics and in consonance with the popular mantra: ‘let us Jaw- jaw instead of war-war’.
As is typical of the experience of those who cross the paths of OBIDIENTs and are compelled to cross swords with them,the spat has generated a very high decibel of noises in the social media,as the hyper energetic and combat ready (youths and the young at heart) on both sides have been engaging in war of words featuring massive exchange of bile and expletives.
Prof Soyinka in his snide and highly combustible remark about the LP was also denouncing them for their alleged attempt to intimidate the five (5) judges appointed into the PEPT via their ‘Eyes On Judiciary’
blitzkrieg that was banned for placement in the mainstream media by Nigeria’s advertising regulatory authorities for the basic reason that it is in breach of the extant laws guiding advertising.
It was held by the advertising regulatory agency that authorized the removal of the massive billboards that had gotten erected in strategic locations in Abuja where the PEPT was conducting its business of adjudicating on elections 2023, that it was indeed an act of intimidation as the judiciary had deemed it.
Clearly there are lots of blame to go round to all the stake holders in the 2023 general elections ranging from INEC’s promise to adopt technology in conducting the election which it failed to deliver on; the legislators failure to tie the loose ends in the Electoral Act 2022 by not definitively stating wether reliance on electronic transfer of election results via the INEC on-line real-time platform,IReV was mandatory, sacrosanct,obligatory,but made it optional. And thus conferred too much power on lNEC ( without oversight from the executive, legislative or judicial branches of government) in a matter of such critical importance to the stability of our country.
As it may be recalled,after the back and forth movements that the updated Electoral Act 2022 was subjected to between the president who refused to append his signature to the first version and the legislators who were initially reluctant to accept that the result would only be transmitted electronically for it to be deemed as authentic,before they eventually left it open,one would have thought that the new version of the rules guiding elections was water tight.
But with the PEPT ruling on the petitions by LP and PDP, it is clear that the option that was left to INEC to use its discretion to exercise is the source of the acrimonious contentions playing out in the elections tribunals.
And it would be a source of future political acrimony, if politicians suspect that the next occupier of the INEC chairman seat may not be impartial. Hence the Electoral Act 2022 needs to be revisited by the 10th National Assembly.
Invariably,it means that the job of the 10th national assembly is well cut out for it as the loose ends of the Electoral Act 2022 must be tied up tightly before 2027 elections season commences.
Should the petitioners decide to proceed to the Supreme Court to continue their challenge of the victory of President Tinubu as they have vowed to, apart from enriching the lawyers,(although some are carrying out the assignment pro bono) Nigeria’s jurisprudence would also be enriched.
Although the courts do not grant prayers that are not made by a petitioner, hence sanctions were not meted out by PEPT to INEC executives that over promised and under delivered based on their consistent avowals to transmit results from the polling units to its database,and subsequently upload all the results into the IReV for the viewing pleasure of every member of the public interested: and which inspired hitherto disillusioned Nigerians to obtain the PVC and vote; perhaps the demand that INEC executives be sanctioned would be made in the new plea by the petitioners,assuming they elect to proceed to the Supreme Court.
Whatever the case may be,it should be clear to even the blind and deaf that President Tinubu has made history by emerging as the president of Nigeria against all the odds fashioned against him on his way to Aso Rock Villa.
For those of us who believe in God or higher powers as the case may be ,President Tinubu’s ascendancy to the presidency of Nigeria in 2023 ,appears to me as a settled and irreversible matter.
So my candid advice is that the opposition parties should start preparing for 2027 which is the next season of general elections in Nigeria.
That is because above all else,and to the best of my knowledge,none of the petitioners has been able to make a successful plea that the election did not meet the substantial compliance threshold which is a very key criteria that must be met for an election to be declared credible as stated in Nigeria’s statutes book.
And that being the case,the earlier the opposition parties start getting used to the reality that President Tinubu is here for the long haul and join him in bringing succor to the long suffering Nigerians who can not wait for his Renewed Hope agenda to start yielding dividends so that they can exhale, the better.
Magnus Onyibe,an entrepreneur,public policy analyst ,author,democracy advocate,development strategist,alumnus of Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy,Tufts University, Massachusetts,USA and a former commissioner in Delta state government, sent this piece from Lagos, Nigeria.
To continue with this conversation and more ,please visit www.magnum.ng