Security has been beefed up at the Court of Appeal in the Federal Capital Territory as the Presidential Election Petitions Tribunal commences the pre-hearing of the petitions challenging the outcome of the February 25 presidential election.
Major roads leading to the appellate court, the venue of the PEPT, are barricaded by armed police officers who mount vehicles at various intersections nearby while other security officers are also stationed outside and around the court premises.
The PUNCH had reported that Bola Tinubu of the ruling All Progressives Congress polled 8,794,726 votes to win the presidential election, while Atiku Abubakar of the Peoples Democratic Party came second with 6,984,520 votes and Peter Obi was third with 6,101,533 votes, according to the declaration of the Independent National Electoral Commission in the early hours of Wednesday, March 1.
Dissatisfied with the outcome of the election, Messrs Atiku and Obi and their parties, among others, approached the Presidential Election Petitions Tribunal, seeking to annul Tinubu’s victory on various grounds.
According to the tribunal on Monday, the first case to be adjudicated is that of the Action Alliance and its presidential candidate, Solomon Okanigbuan, who had notified the tribunal of their intention to withdraw their petition against the declaration of Tinubu as president-elect, after the unveiling of the tribunal.
Others listed as respondents in the AA’s petition alongside Tinubu are INEC, the APC and Hamza Al-Mustapha.
Other petitions slated for the pre-hearing session are those of the Action People’s Party, which has Tinubu, the APC and INEC as its three respondents.
That would be followed by that of Obi and the LP, marked CA/PEPC/03/2023, with INEC, Tinubu, Kashim Shetima, and the APC as its four respondents.
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The Allied People’s Movement’s petition against Tinubu would proceed next, and the defendants are INEC, APC, Tinubu, Shetima and Kabir Masari.
Atiku and the PDP’s petition, marked CA/ PEPC/05/2023, which has INEC, Tinubu, and the APC as its three respondents, would be treated last.
The court pre-hearing resumed at about 9:15 am with an opening remark by the Presiding Justice, Haruna Tsammani, who leads a five-man panel of Justices.
Other members of the panel are Justice Stephen Adah, Justice Misitura Bolaji-Yusuf, Justice Boloukuoromo Ugo and Justice Abbah Mohammed.
Justice Tsammani maintained that the panel would do justice to the case and advised the lawyers against making sensational comments, while asking for their cooperation since the case is time-bound, and warned them to be wary of bringing unnecessary applications that will waste the time of the court.
In their separate responses, counsel for the president-elect, Wole Olanikpekun, that of Atiku, Chris Uche, as well as Obi’s lawyer, Livy Uzoukwu, assured the court of their full cooperation and support.
Tsammani concluded that everyone would be satisfied with the verdict at the end of the case.