The Presidential Election Petition Court in Abuja will today (Wednesday) deliver its much-anticipated, high-stake judgement on three petitions challenging the election of President Bola Tinubu.
Mr Tinubu’s win as the candidate of the All Progressives Congress (APC) in the 25 February has been eclipsed by the opposition’s allegations of fraud in the process that was eagerly monitored around the world.
There are three pending petitions filed in court in the aftermath of the election challenging the credibility of Mr Tinubu’s victory which the five-member panel of the court will decide on today.
Two of the petitions were filed by the leading opposition presidential candidates – Atiku Abubakar of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), who came second behind Mr Tinubu, and Peter Obi of the Labour Party, who took the third position, according to the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC).
A total of 18 candidates contested the election.
The third petition was filed by a political party, the Allied Peoples Movement (APM), whose presidential candidate, Chichi Ojei, scored 25,961 votes out of the over 28 million votes cast during the election.
There were two other petitions filed by the Action Peoples Party (APP) and the Action Alliance (AA) at the court before the close of the window for filing presidential election petitions in March but were withdrawn before hearing began.
The two separate but typical petitions filed by Atiku and Mr Obi, centre on election and pre-election issues.
They attacked the qualification of Mr Tinubu to contest the election, the legality of the nomination of his running mate, the integrity of the election process, and the threshold of the spread of votes used by INEC to declare Mr Tinubu as the winner of the poll.
Both Atiku and Mr Obi individually asked the court to either declare them the winner of the election or order a fresh poll. Should the court choose to order a fresh election, they prayed that Mr Tinubu and his party, the APC, should be barred from participating in it.
The APM did not claim to have won the election. Its petition, anchored on the sole ground of alleged double nomination of Mr Tinubu’s running mate and present-day Vice President, Kashim Shettima, sought the cancellation of APC’s votes and declaration of Atiku the winner of the poll.
Mr Tinubu was inaugurated as Nigeria’s 16th leader in May, three months after the disputed election, while the opposition candidates continued to wage a legal challenge to his victory in court.
The court’s judgement, which will be televised live, is a high-stake decision that will get attention beyond Nigeria.
At home, with the broad spectrum of interests fixated on the cases since March, the judgement, whichever way it goes, will impact heavily on public confidence in the judiciary, and INEC alongside its heavily funded technological tools it deployed nationwide for the first time during the 2023 elections.
Also, Mr Tinubu’s election as Nigeria’s president, which the court is going to decide on today, goes to the root of his standing as the chair of the West African regional body, ECOWAS.
The judgement is coming at a time when Mr Tinubu’s advocacy for entrenchment of democratic rule in Africa is resonating across Africa and the world.