TRIBUNAL: INEC excited about plans to consolidate petitions
The Presidential Election Petition Court (PEPC) is considering the possibility of consolidating the three surviving petitions challenging the conduct and outcome of the February 25 election, which resulted in Bola Tinubu of the All Progressives Congress (APC) being declared the president-elect.
The intention to consolidate the petitions was communicated to the parties’ counsel on Saturday by Justice Haruna Tsammani, the Chairman of the five-member panel. Justice Tsammani referred to Paragraph 50 of the First Schedule to the Electoral Act, which allows for the merging of petitions and their joint determination.
In response, Chief Chris Uche, SAN, the lead counsel for Atiku and the People’s Democratic Party (PDP), requested time to consult his client. He acknowledged that they had considered the proposal but believed it necessary to consult with the other petitioners. Uche, SAN, requested a stand down or an adjournment to explore the modalities, comparing the situation to a marriage that requires consent from all parties involved.
The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) expressed enthusiasm about the planned consolidation of the petitions as though it was behind the proposal in the first place.
Mr. Abubakar Mahmood, SAN, who serves as INEC’s lead counsel, argued that the provision in the law was mandatory. He emphasized that if two or more petitions were filed to challenge the same election or return, they must be consolidated unless the court directs otherwise. INEC supported any decision the court would take regarding this matter.
On March 1, INEC disregarded objections from opposition parties, particularly the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) and the Labour Party (LP), calling for the suspension of the collation process and addressing concerns raised by the opposition, including former President Olusegun Obasanjo.
It went ahead and announced Bola Tinubu of the APC as the winner of the presidential poll while many Nigerians were still asleep, seemingly accomplishing its goal of manipulating votes in favor of the ruling party and Tinubu.
According to INEC, Tinubu secured a total of 8,794,726 votes, defeating the two major contenders. Atiku of the PDP came in second with a total of 6,984,520 votes, and Mr. Peter Obi of the Labour Party (LP) came in third with a total of 6,101,533 votes.
Both Atiku and Obi were dissatisfied with the outcome of the election and separately claimed victory. They filed petitions before the court challenging the results.
Source: National Pivot