Presidential Election Petition Court dismisses APM’s petition against Tinubu

The Presidential Election Petition Court (PEPC) sitting in Abuja on Wednesday has dismissed the petition filed by the Allied Peoples Movement (APM) challenging the election of President Bola Tinubu of the All Progressive Congress (APC).

Justice Haruna Tsammani, President of the five-member Court, who read the judgement of the court, said the petition lacked merit as its main ground of petition, the alleged double nomination of Mr Tinubu’s running mate, Kashim Shettima, as a vice-presidential candidate and Borno Central senator, did not hold any water.

Tsammani, who earlier ruled on the preliminary motions filed by the respondents to the petition, noted that it was clear the APM’s petition was anchored on the non-qualification of Vice-President Shettima with the allegation that while Shettima was still the APC’s Borno Central senatorial candidate, he was nominated by the party, and did accept the nomination as the vice-presidential candidate of the party.

He ruled that the issue of double nomination raised by the APM was a pre-election matter that ought to have been ventilated at the Federal High Court.

The judge held that the issue of nomination of a candidate by a political party was an internal affair of the party, stating that the issue of qualification of a candidate of a political party was not an all-comers’ affair but an internal affair of a party that was not the business of another political party.

Tsammani said the Nigerian Constitution, having established the qualifying and disqualifying factors for candidates running for an election, no court could create other qualifying or disqualifying factors. He said the Supreme Court has followed this principle in all cases.

He listed these basic constitutional requirements for qualification to run for the presidency as the person must be a citizen of Nigeria by birth; the person must be 40 years old or above; the person must be a member of a political party; the person must be sponsored or nominated by a political party; and the person must be educated to the level of a secondary school certificate or its equivalent.

Tsammani said the court has no power to create additional grounds to disqualify any candidate standing for an election.

He pointed out that the issue of the double nomination of Shettima has been resolved by the Supreme Court and rejected the argument of the APM that it had the right to re-litigate the issue at the Presidential Election Petition Court because it was not joined as a party to the case decided by the Supreme Court.

Tsammani said even though the APM was not a party to the case, it was clear that the issue raised in the instant petition was the same as the one the Supreme Court resolved in the earlier case.

He also rejected the APM’s argument that the issue was not resolved in the lead judgement of the Supreme Court, explaining that a supporting judgement in which the matter was resolved was binding.

Tsammani added that it was clear from the oral and documentary evidence that the APM had not established the allegation of double nomination against Shettima.

He said there was nothing in the Nigerian constitution that stops a presidential candidate from replacing his running mate within 90 days, and there is also nothing that invalidates the nomination of the substitute within the stipulated period.

He resolved the sole issue of the double nomination of Shettima against the petitioner, APM, stressing that the petition lacks merit.

Tsammani noted that after the pre-hearing session, the APM opened and closed its case with one witness on 21 June 2023.

He said none of the respondents called any witnesses but only tendered some documents from the bar.

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