Presidential Election: Atiku, Obi Move To Replicate Kenya, Malawian Rare Judgements
Weeks after the presidential election, many Nigerians have kept hopes alive, believing that their preferred candidate can still be declared winner, this time, not by the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, but by the court- the last hope of the common man.
According to the laws of the land, INEC has done its job by conducting, concluding and declaring the winner of the presidential election. The electoral umpire is also bound by the law to review some of its decisions as demanded by some political parties during the collation of results.
The election was said to have witnessed cases of irregularities, votes suppression, massive rigging, manipulations (in the form of rewriting of results and destruction of ballot boxes).
During the collation of results at the national collation centre of the INEC, Abuja, some political parties had staged a walkout over the Commission’s refusal to halt collation of results and to review the process.
The Commission went ahead with the process and announced candidate of the All Progressives Congress, APC, Bola Ahmed Tinubu as the winner of the election,
The INEC said that Tinubu polled a total of 8,794,726 to defeat his closest rivals and candidates of the PDP, Atiku and Obi who, according to the Commission, scored 6,984, 520 and 6,101,533 respectively.
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However, the presidential candidates of the Labour Party, LP, Peter Obi and that of the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, Atiku Abubakar, made their intent to go to court clear.
Peter Obi categorically said he won the election and expressed the hope of reclaiming his allegedly stolen mandate at the apex court, vowing to do whatever is necessary within the law.
However, hardly any presidential election is annulled in Nigeria. This is despite the fact that after every election there must be some form of challenge to the results and fairness of the process.
Notwithstanding, two decisive exceptions to this rule stand out in Africa- namely the invalidation of the controversial re-election of president Peter Mutharika by the constitutional court of Malawi in 2019 and the Kenyan Supreme Court invalidating the re-election of president Uhuru Kenyatta in 2017. In both cases, the decision was final and required a rerun.
Kenya’s Supreme Court had annulled the presidential election, citing irregularities, and ordered a new one within 60 days after the election commission had declared incumbent Uhuru Kenyatta the winner by a margin of 1.4 million votes.
Other elections, such as the governorship, Senate, Houses of Assembly, among others, in Africa have been annulled or cancelled but that of Kenya appeared to be the first time on the continent that an opposition’s legal challenge against a presidential poll result was successful.
In the Malawian judgement, the court nullified the election of President Mutharika, who was declared winner by the country’s electoral umpire in May 2019, citing massive irregularities during the process.
The verdict followed a court challenge filed by Saulos Chilima, leader of the opposition United Transformation Movement Party, UTMP and Lazarus Chakwera, leader of the Malawi Congress Party, MCP.
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The court called for fresh elections within 150 days and also reinstated former Vice President Saulos Chilima.
Moreover, most observers (international and local) and members of the international community did not pass good judgement on the February 25, 2023 presidential election in Nigeria, with some of them saying it was marred with irregularities.
For instance, the US embassy in Nigeria admitted the election conducted did not meet the expectations of Nigerians.
Speaking after the result was announced, the US Ambassador to Nigeria, Mary Beth Leonard, noted that many citizens are not happy with the results of the polls.
Also, while congratulating the INEC-declared President-elect, Tinubu, the UK, through its Foreign Secretary, James Cleverly, called on the Nigerian authorities to address the concern of the opposition parties over the organisation of the election.
Other civil society organisations and international observers also noted that the poll was marred by technical challenges.
A coalition of international election observers had blamed INEC for lack of transparency in the conduct of the elections.
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The Joint Election Observation Mission (JEOM), involving the International Republican Institute (IRI) and the National Democratic Institute (NDI), led by Joyce Banda, former President of Malawi, spoke in an official gazette released after the election.
The group said 40 of its members were deployed across all six geopolitical regions of Nigeria to observe the voting process, noting that despite the clamours for reforms to the Electoral Act 2022, “Nigerians were mostly not impressed by the conduct of the 2023 presidential and national assembly elections.”
And as Nigerians on both sides of the coin wait patiently for the final verdict of the Supreme Court, supporters of the opposing political parties and candidates will be hoping that the Kenya and Malawi judgements are replicated in Nigeria, while those on the side of victory would not fancy such a historic ruling.
Speaking to DAILY POST on the possibility of the Supreme Court upturning a presidential election in Nigeria, Barr. Olu Omotayo, President, Civil Rights Realisation and Advancement Network, CRRAN, said it is possible for Nigerians to for once witness such ruling, but added that the petitioners must be able to prove their arguments beyond all reasonable doubts,
“In the history of the world it is very rare where you see courts nullifying presidential elections. In this country, we’ve seen where they annulled governorship elections on several occasions,” he said.
“It’s not that [nullifying presidential election] is not possible, but it’s just that you must be able to prove whatever you’re relying upon. So if you’re saying there’s a problem with the election, you must prove it because it’s something that covers the whole country.
“You cannot just say there were irregularities in Lagos so because of that they should cancel the election. You should be able to prove substantially that the irregularities affected the election all over the country and this is the angle people are looking at, that it is not easy because of the population and how large this country is.
“It will not be easy for the petitioner to prove the burden put on his shoulders because the law is in the view that INEC has done what it is supposed to do. So if you’re going to court, just like the presumption of innocence, it’s assumed, under our law, that someone is innocent until proven otherwise.
“So there’s this presumption that INEC has done well, that once they declare the result they’ve done what they were supposed to do. So you that are going to the court will now prove that they’ve not complied with the law and have not done what they were supposed to do. That’s why the burden is heavy on you as a petitioner to prove them otherwise. You that have taken someone to court, it is on you to prove.
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“Civil matter is different from criminal matter. In criminal matters, it is presumed that this person is innocent and it’s on you to prove, but you know this electoral matter is special procedure and not just civil matter per se, so if the law says this is what you’ve to establish, you must establish it.
“State is easier because it’s just a micro of the whole country. So it’s easier for people to prove cases of what happened in Local Governments. In Nigeria we have 774 Local Governments. So I’m not saying it’s not possible but it just creates a heavy burden on the petitioner in the presidential election to prove these things.
“According to the law, there’s that presumption of regularity on what INEC has done. But that presumption can be challenged by the petitioner. INEC is protected under the law but it’s only the court that can say that the [electoral umpire] erred.
“The law is on their side. Political parties were calling on them to review their decision but if INEC feels that they don’t have anything to review, it’s only the court that can say the Commission has not done well. So it’s left for the political parties to convince the court.”
Opposition Planning To Truncate My Swearing-in, Tinubu Raises Alarm
…Tells, Atiku, Obi, ‘You Can’t Be In Court And On The Streets
The President-elect, Asiwaju Bola Tinubu, has raised the alarm over alleged plots by some aggrieved partisans to truncate the transition process, particularly his expected swearing-in on May 29.
Tinubu in a statement by his Director, Public Affairs and Minister of State Labour and Employment, Mr Festus Keyamo SAN also warned the presidential candidates of the Peoples Democratic Party PDP, Alhaji Atiku Abubakar and that of the Labour Party LP, Mr Peter Obi against taking to the streets while also pursuing their cases in court.
In the statement issued Saturday in Abuja, the President-elect noted that those who have taken to the streets protesting against his mandate are fixated on having an Interim National Government ING.
Part of the statement reads; “We have watched with great concern the condemnable activities of some persons and groups who are desirous of truncating our democracy.
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“For reasons best known to them, these persons have remained embittered that Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu was declared winner of the 2023 General Elections. Repeatedly, but unfortunately, these misguided individuals have called for either the cancellation of the results or that the President-elect should not be inaugurated on the 29th of May, 2023.
“We wish to reiterate and emphasise that these positions are not in tandem with our constitutional provisions or our electoral laws. We would have taken these as mere wishful thinking, however, because of their implications for national security and public order, we have therefore considered it necessary, if not expedient, to call them to order.
“We are aware of the intentions of those engaged in these treasonable and subversive acts. We also know those involved in the many plots being contrived to undermine the transition in particular and democracy in general. They are fixated on an Interim Government. They have done it in this country before and it threw the country into avoidable crises for many years and they want to do it again. They are bent on delegitimizing the new government. Some have made treasonable insinuations and openly called for military take-over. It is for these reasons that they are desperate to incite the people against the incoming Government.
“It is perplexing to see that those contesting the results want to be in the courts and on the streets at the same time. However, if their intention is to truncate the inauguration of the President-elect and Vice-President-elect, they should immediately bury the thought. It is gratifying to note that the President has set in motion steps for the actualisation of the swearing-in ceremonies. In this regard, the Presidential Transition Council has remained focused and committed to its Terms of Reference in respect of organizing a hitch-free handover”.
READ ALSO: BREAKING: Anti-Tinubu Protesters Ground Abuja, Demand Interim Govt, Fresh Polls
The statement noted that on many occasions after the declaration of Tinubu as the winner of the election, his public speeches and utterances have centred on reconciliation, forgiveness and a greater vision for Nigeria.
It added that the President-elect knows those who are sponsoring violent protests against his mandate as well as their sponsors from within and outside Nigeria and shall be working closely with the security agencies to apprehend them and bring them to book
“He has pledged fairness as the basis for his present and future engagements. He has unequivocally stated that he would not accord favour to those that supported him, and neither would he mistreat those who did not vote for him. This is statesmanly and patriotic. We all watched the President-elect as Governor of Lagos for eight years. He never undermined any person or tribe. He championed people-oriented policies. It is common knowledge that he is a welfarist and a pacifist. This is even more so that millions of citizens have spoken through the ballot box in his favour.
“By being declared winners, Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu and Senator Kashim Shettima are legally entitled to be inaugurated into office as provided for by law and as we have practised since 1999, whilst those who feel otherwise have the right to seek legal redress in court. Why should their situation be different from what we have practised since 1999?
“Those who are dissatisfied with the declaration must conduct themselves within the ambits of the law. Nigeria is not a lawless country and should not be portrayed as such no matter the frustrations as presently being exhibited by some bad losers.
READ ALSO: How INEC Deployed Device To Switch Results In Tinubu’s Favour — Atiku
“Those who are stoking the embers of hate, division and falsehoods as well as peddling misleading narratives through some compromised media outlets should detract from such. It amounts to campaigning after elections. Hate speeches, fake news and propaganda at a time like this are needless because Nigerians have already made their choice. Those who are bent on scuttling the process will ignite the fire of destruction and run away. But they should not even start.
“We simply wish that peace reigns in the country. It does not make sense that some persons who should know better are encouraging violence and are so determined to achieve that.
“We know these persons and their sponsors from within and outside Nigeria and we shall be working closely with the security agencies to apprehend them and bring them to book. Our concern is that everyday Nigerians who are unaware of the evil intentions of these persons should not be used as cannon fodders. Enough is enough. Their continuous determination to dare us should cease forthwith. We are not lacking in capabilities and capacities. Our silence should not be taken for cowardice. We should come together for the peace of our beloved country. It is better”, Keyamo added.
JUST IN: APC Denies Suspending Deputy Spokesperson
The All Progressives Congress APC has debunked reports that it suspended a member of its National Working Committee NWC and Deputy National Publicity Secretary of the party, Hon. Murtala Yakubu Ajaka.
This was as it emerged that one of the signatories to the said suspension letter, Danjuma Sani Ejika had reportedly died in 2022.
The Kogi state chapter of the APC had been hit with a series of post-election crisis, a development that led to a raft of suspensions which affected nine state assembly members accused of terrorism and seven local government chairmen accused of anti party activities.
Ajaka was also purportedly suspended by the entire executive members of APC, Ajaka Ward 1, Igalamela/Odolu Local Government Area of Kogi State, in a letter dated March 20, over “alleged anti-party activities, insubordination, gross misconduct, unguided statement, running parallel party structure and encouraging factionalism in the party”.
READ ALSO: BREAKING: Court Orders Service Of Petitions On Tinubu Through APC
In a swift reaction on Friday, ward chairman of the party, Omale Danladi denied authoring any letter suspending Ajaka.
In a sworn affidavit deposed to at the Kogi State High Court, Danladi said; “At the late hours of 23rd March, 2023, I was informed of a purported letter of suspension alongside a document containing names and signatures of party’s Ward Executive members purportedly present at the meeting whereat the decision to suspend our party leader, principal and Gubernatorial Aspirant, Alh. Murtala Yakubu Ajaka was reached. Copies of the said documents are herein attached and marked as Exhibit A and B respectively.
“The said letter, as appeared on the face, was purportedly signed by me alongside my Ward Secretary of the Party.
“That upon sighting the letter and the content, I was completely surprised, as I am completely unaware of the letter and the content contained therein.
“That I completely deny the letter along with the allegations contained therein, as same is entirely false.
“That the letter of suspension was not written by any member of the Ajaka Ward 1 Executives of the party.
“That there was no meeting of the Ward 1 Executive to suspend Alh. Murtala Yakubu Ajaka.
“That I unequivocally deny the letter along with the allegations contained therein, as same is completely false.
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“That to make the falsehood more glaring, the said Danjuma Sani Ejika (Welfare Secretary) whose name appears on the attached Exhibit A, died in 2022.
“That I have no reason whatsoever to criticize Alh. Murtala Yakubu Ajaka, talk more of writing or signing a letter for his suspension. That the letter is only a ploy to denigrate my person and of the executive members of my ward.
“That the letter could only have been orchestrated by mischief makers who are out to cause mischief between me and my Excos and to frustrate the political ambition of our endearing brother and leader, Alh. Murtala Yakubu Ajaka.
“That I depose to this affidavit in good faith, solemnly and conscientiously believing same to be true and in accordance to the Oaths Act”, he added.
In a letter written to Ajaka and signed by Danladi alongside the Ward Secretary, Suleiman Abubakar, the party also denied suspending him.
Part of the letter reads; “We, the leadership of our great Party, the All Progressives Congress APC, Ward 1, Ajaka in Igalamela/Odolu Local Government Area of Kogi State wish to and hereby deny the purported letter of your suspension alongside all the allegations contained therein in entirety, as they are completely frivolous, false and a calculated attempt by political enemies to tarnish the image of the generality of Ward 1 Party Excos and to distract and frustrate your selfless political ambition.
READ ALSO: Alleged Suspension Of 9 APC Leaders In Esan Central False – Inegbeneki
“The falsehood and mischief of the mischief makers becomes more glaring from the inclusion of the name and signature of our deceased Exco member by the name Danjuma Sani Ejika (Welfare Secretary) who died on 13th April, 2022 on a purported document containing the names and signatures of Ajaka Ward 1 Exco members present at the purported meeting whereat the decision to suspend you was reached.
“What is more, the place, date and time when we, the Ajaka Ward 1 leadership of our great party reached the purported decision to suspend you is not stated on the letter.
“While we regret all the inconveniences and pandemonium occasioned by this mischievous act of the political enemies, may we use this medium to reiterate our unalloyed support for you before, during and after the elections and to further assure you that, with your unmatched records and by the grace of God, your victory in the forthcoming elections is assured”.
BREAKING: Court Orders Service Of Petitions On Tinubu Through APC
The Presidential Election Petition Court, PEPC, sitting in Abuja, on Friday, ordered that the President-elect, Bola Tinubu, should be served with copies of petitions seeking to nullify his election, through substituted means.
A three-man panel of the court led by Justice Joseph Ikyegh, directed that the petitions should be served on Tinubu, through his political party, the All Progressives Congress, APC.
The ruling followed separate ex-parte applications that were brought before the court by the candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, Atiku Abubakar and his counterpart in the Labour Party, Peter Obi.
READ ALSO: Tinubu’s Victory: Peter Obi Ungrateful, I Never Worked Against Him – Wike
The duo accused the President-elect Tinubu, of deliberately avoiding the service of their petitions on him.
They told the court that several attempts they made to effect service of the petitions on Tinubu, proved abortive.
According to the petitioners, the President-elect deliberately made himself elusive with a view to frustrating their effort to hand him copies of the petition as required by the law.
Consequently, relying on Section 6(6a) and 36(1) of the 1999 Constitution, as amended, Section 15 of the Court of Appeal Act, as well as Paragraph 8 of the First Schedule of the Electoral Act 2022, the petitioners sought the intervention of the Court.
Both Atiku and Obi further supported their ex-parte motions dated March 23, with affidavits of urgency and non-service, even as they persuaded the court to hear the applications, outside the pre-hearing session of their substantive petitions.
READ ALSO: JUST IN: PDP Suspends Fayose, Anyim, Others, Refers Ortom To Disciplinary Committee
While Atiku’s application was moved on Friday by his legal team led by Mr Eyitayo Jegede, SAN, that of Obi and LP was moved by Mr. Ikechukwu Ezechukwu, SAN.
“Having heard the applications by counsel to the petitioners including the affidavit in support, the applications are hereby granted”, the Justice Ikyegh-led panel ruled.
The panel equally granted leave to the Allied Peoples Movement, APM, to also serve its own petition on Tinubu, via substituted means.
It will be recalled that the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, had on March 1, declared Tinubu of the ruling All Progressives Congress, APC, as the winner of the presidential poll, ahead of 17 other candidates that contested the election.
According to INEC, Tinubu, scored a total of 8,794,726 votes to defeat Atiku who polled a total of 6,984,520 votes and Obi of the LP who came third with a total of 6,101,533 votes.
However, both Atiku and Obi rejected the outcome of the election which they insisted was rigged in Tinubu’s favour.
Aside from accusing INEC of acting in breach of its own electoral Regulations and Guidelines, the petitioners equally argued that Tinubu was not legally qualified to participate in the presidential contest.
More so, they argued that he did not garner the highest number of lawful votes cast at the election, adding that votes credited to the APC candidate amounted to wasted votes by reason of corrupt practices that marred the election.
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Atiku further alleged that the electoral body deployed a third-party device he said was used to intercept and divert votes to the APC and its candidate.
While both Obi and Atiku separately claimed that they won the election, they asked the court to either declare them winners or in the alternative, order a fresh election.
Both petitioners urged the court to compel INEC to withdraw the Certificate of Return it earlier issued to Tinubu of the APC.
The court had earlier ordered INEC to grant Tinubu, who is currently out of the country, access to all the electoral materials it used for the presidential poll, to enable him to prepare to defend his election victory.
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