The coast is now clear for litigations against the Independent National Electoral Commission’s declaration of Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu as the winner of the (2023) Presidential Election under the All Progressives Congress, APC.
INEC declared Tinubu the winner of the presidential election having garnered 8,805,835 from the 36 states and the FCT as required by the Nigerian constitution.
Atiku Abubakar of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) got 6,984,640 while Peter Obi of the Labour Party secured 6,096,017 votes.
The applicability of the law as stated by INEC will apparently be tested before a tribunal in the days ahead.
This is because, for instance, the Labour Party, Peoples Democratic Party, and the African Democratic Congress had called for the cancellation of the entire process, vowing to explore legal means to seek redress.
They alleged that due to the electoral umpires’ inability to upload election results from polling units in real-time as published on INEC’s electoral guidelines as well as alleged voter suppression and malpractice, the election will not stand.
According to the 1999 Constitution and the Electoral Act 2022, election or post-election matters arising from the polls are presided over by a tribunal which is vested with powers to determine the merits of any case brought before it by any party.
The law allocates powers to the court to uphold or nullify an election and make any orders as it deems fit and the electoral umpire would be looking forward to the outcome as enshrined in the Electoral Act 2022.
Section 72 of the Electoral Act 2022, reads —(1) A sealed certificate of return at an election in a prescribed form shall be issued within 14 days to every candidate who has been returned by the returning officer in an election under this Act : Provided that where the Court of Appeal or the Supreme Court being the final appellate court in any election petition, as the case may be, nullifies any candidate’s certificate of return, the Commission shall within 48 hours after receipt of the court’s order, issue the successful candidate with a valid certificate of return.
The 1999 constitution also gives the court or tribunal the powers to decide “whether any person has been validly elected to the office of President or Vice-President under this Constitution.”
In president Muhammadu Buahri’s congratulatory message to Tinubu on Wednesday, he urged political opponents to approach the court too.
“I know some politicians and candidates may not agree with this view. That too is fine. If any candidate believes they can prove the fraud they claim is committed against them, then bring forward the evidence. If they cannot, then we must conclude that the election was indeed the people’s will – no matter how hard that may be for the losers to accept. If they feel the need to challenge, please take it to the courts, not to the streets,” Buhari said.