In a landmark moment for Nigerian democracy, the Presidential Election Petitions Court (PEPC) in Abuja is poised to deliver a critical judgment. The outcome of the case will determine whether President Bola Tinubu of the All Progressives Congress (APC) will retain his position or if the opposition candidates, former Vice President Atiku Abubakar of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and former Anambra State Governor Peter Obi of the Labour Party, will emerge victorious.
This election season marked a historic event in Nigeria’s democratic history, with four formidable presidential candidates vying for power. At the center of the legal battle is a fundamental question regarding the status of the Federal Capital Territory (FCT), Abuja, and its classification under the constitution – a matter that has never been decisively addressed before.
The PEPC is currently reviewing the final written addresses submitted by the candidates and is expected to render its judgment in mid to late August or early September. The petitions were filed shortly after the February 25 election, and the court’s decision carries significant weight, given the political sensitivity and the evolving legal interpretations.
The crux of the petitions revolves around allegations of irregularities and non-compliance with electoral laws. Atiku and Obi, as well as other petitioners, have accused President Tinubu and the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) of various offenses, including switching and suppressing votes, failure to obtain the required percentage of votes in the FCT, and allegations of forgery and dual citizenship against Tinubu.
Among the grounds for litigation, the issue of securing 25% of votes in the FCT, as well as in a substantial number of states, emerges as a focal point. Atiku and Obi argue that Tinubu’s alleged failure to meet this requirement could invalidate the election results and trigger a re-run or disqualification.
The verdict from the five-member panel of Justices at the PEPC is highly anticipated, considering the unprecedented nature of the election and the specific challenges tied to the FCT’s status. The outcome will significantly shape the course of Nigerian politics and potentially lead to further appeals at the Supreme Court.
As the final judgment approaches, both the petitioners and respondents are facing mounting pressure. Atiku and Obi’s aspirations to secure the presidency rest on the court’s decision, while President Tinubu and his allies defend the legitimacy of his victory. Regardless of the verdict, the legal battle’s consequences are poised to reverberate through Nigeria’s political landscape, making for a period of anxious anticipation in the days ahead.
Mr Ezomon, Journalist and Media Consultant, writes from Lagos, Nigeria .