The Presidential elections have come and gone. But one thing is certain, the elections held on the 25th day of February 2023, would mean different things to different Nigerians.

To some it was a sham of an election; the Lord of the rigs played a master card and he is now the ‘President-Select’.

To others, it was a proper election. INEC did its best, the results are in and Nigerians should accept their new President-Elect and move on.

As you would know already; Four frontline candidates contested in the elections. In no particular or preferred order; they were – Alhaji Bola Ahmed Tinubu of the All Progressives Congress (APC), Alhaji Atiku Abubakar of the People’s Democratic Party (PDP), Mr Peter Obi of the Labour Party (LP) and Alhaji Rabiu Kwankwaso of the New Nigeria People’s Party (NNPP).

Source: BBC

As the news confirms, INEC concluded the collation and announcement of the election results in the wee hours of 1st March 2023.

The results as announced by INEC were as follows;

Results of the 2023 Presidential Election in Nigeria

By INEC’s announcement, the candidate of the All Progressives Congress won the elections and he was returned as the President-elect.

The other frontline candidates have expressed their dissatisfaction with the results announced. And they have proceeded to Court (that is the election Petition Tribunal).

Mr. Peter Obi Goes to Court

On the 20th day of March 2023, Mr Peter Obi’s petition was filed at the tribunal. You can download a full copy of the Petition here.

In this short piece, we’ve decided to give you bit-sized details of what his petition is saying or what it contains.

This is not an analysis of the strengths or merits of the petition. That is for the tribunal to decide. And as Lawyers, we are ethically required not to make comments on matters that are before the Courts (or sub-judice).

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So, grab your pop-corn as we commence;

On how many grounds is Mr. Obi challenging the election?

Mr Peter Obi is challenging the election on three main grounds. These grounds are simply the main reasons he wants the Court to rely on to set aside the election.

What are the three grounds for his challenging the election?

  1. Bola Ahmed Tinubu and his running mate; Alhaji Kashim Shettima were not qualified to contest in the election.
  2. Bola Ahmed Tinubu’s election is invalid because a lot of corrupt practices or non-compliance with the Electoral Act 2022[1] happened during the conduct of the elections.
  3. Bola Ahmed Tinubu was not duly elected by the majority of the lawful votes cast at the election

A Few More details on the grounds …

Let’s highlight a few major details in the Petition.

Bola Ahmed Tinubu and His Running Mate; Alhaji Shettima

Ground 1 –Bola Ahmed Tinubu and Alhaji Shettima were not qualified to contest.

On the first ground which is that Bola Ahmed Tinubu and his running mate were not qualified to contest in the election, there a few facts that the petition has alleged and you should know them.

They are –  

  1. Bola Ahmed Tinubu nominated Shettima as his running mate when Shettima was still the APC candidate for the Borno Senatorial Seat. This double nomination violates the electoral law[2]. Due to this reason, Peter Obi is asking that their joint ticket should be ruled as invalid. In addition, the votes recorded for Bola Ahmed Tinubu by INEC should be ruled by the Court to be wasted votes and therefore disregarded.
  2. Bola Ahmed Tinubu was at the time of the election not qualified to contest because he was fined for an offence involving dishonesty – narcotics trafficking in the USA in 1993[3].
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The central gist of this ground is that BAT and Alhaji Shettima were not qualified to contest and the votes cast for them should be declared invalid by the Court.

Ground 2 – Corrupt Practices and Non-Compliance with the Electoral Act invalidated the election.

On this ground Mr Peter Obi is contesting that;

  1. By the Electoral laws, INEC was to mandatorily use technology for the elections. INEC chose BVAS as the technology for the election. Therefore, the accreditation and authentication of voters was to be done with BVAS. Also, at the conclusion of the election at each polling unit, the Presiding Officer was to electronically transmit the election result in real time. This requirement was mandatory but this was not complied with in many ways during the election.
  2. The results were not fully uploaded on INEC’s portal (iREV) at the time Bola Ahmed Tinubu was declared winner of the election and this gave room for manipulation.
  3. Also, INEC denied his (Mr Peter Obi’s) several requests for copies of the electoral documents and data. INEC also refused to Comply with the Court’s orders allowing Mr Obi to inspect the electoral materials used for the election.
  4. The tribunal should deduct the votes that will be proved as unlawful from BAT’s total number of votes. Also, the tribunal should add back the votes Mr Obi lawfully got from the elections back to his total number of votes.
  5. In 13 states, there were some polling units where the number of votes casted exceeded the number of accredited voters on the BVAS in those states. So there was over-voting in those units.
  6. If these instances of corruption and non-compliance did not happen, he (Mr Obi) would have won the elections.
Source:Getty Images

Ground 3 – Bola Ahmed Tinubu was not duly elected by the majority of lawful votes cast at the election

Under this ground Mr Peter Obi’s petition is alleging the following;

  1. For one to win the Presidential election, he must comply with Sections 133 and 134 of the 1999 Constitution. These Sections stipulate the hurdle the winning candidate in a Presidential election must cross.
  2. Bola Ahmed Tinubu did not cross this hurdle. He did not get at least one quarter of the votes cast at the election in the Federation and FCT Abuja. Therefore, he should not have been declared winner of the elections.
  3. Since Bola Ahmed Tinubu did not cross the constitutional hurdle, there should have been runoff election declared by INEC.
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The Court of Appeal Complex, Abuja, Nigeria.

What is Mr Peter Obi asking from the Tribunal (the Court)?

Peter Obi is asking for a number of alternate reliefs from the Court. Making alternate reliefs or prayers is simply telling the Court – ‘if I prove my case, give me this. If you can’t give me this, give me that’. You could call it hedging one’s bet.

Here are Mr Obi’s reliefs –

  1. The Court should declare/rule that Bola Ahmed Tinubu and Alhaji Shettima were never qualified to contest the elections, their votes are consequently wasted votes and after ignoring their wasted votes, Mr Peter Obi satisfied the constitutional requires and therefore won the elections. OR
  2. The Court should declare that Bola Ahmed Tinubu did not get 25% of the votes in FCT, therefore he shouldn’t have been declared winner of the elections OR
  3. The Court should cancel the elections and order the conduct of fresh elections in which Bola Ahmed Tinubu and Alhaji Shettima should not participate. OR
  4. The Court should declare that Bola Ahmed did not get the majority of lawful votes cast in the elections and based on the valid votes cast, Mr Obi won the elections. OR
  5. The Court should declare that the elections was void (that is of no legal effect) because it did not substantially comply with the Electoral law and Constitution. The elections should be cancelled and fresh elections should be conducted.

Curated by Frederick Nkobowo ESQ.

[1] This is the present law that governs the conduct of the elections in Nigeria.

[2] Section 35 of the Electoral Act 2022.

[3] Section 137 of the Constitution determines who is qualified to contest for the office of President of Nigeria