Court tells Atiku, Obi to serve Tinubu annulment petitions

The Presidential Election Petition Court sitting in Abuja, on Friday, has told the presidential candidates of the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) and Labour Party (LP), Atiku Abubakar and Peter Obi, respectively, to serve the President-elect, Bola Tinubu, with copies of petitions seeking to cancel his nomination as president through substituted means.

According to the court order, these should be specifically served Tinubu through his political party, the All Progressives Congress (APC).

The ruling by a three-man panel of the court, led by Justice Joseph Ikyegh, followed separate motions ex parte filed by Abubakar and Obi before the court.

The PDP and LP candidates had complained that several attempts by them to serve the petitions on the Tinuby failed as he has been avoiding being served the petitions on purpose.

Leaders of Atiku and Obi’s legal teams, Eyitayo Jegede (SAN) and Ikechukwu Ezechukwu (SAN), respectively, separately moved the applications on Friday.

The lawyers relied on Sections 6(6a) and 36(1) of the 1999 Constitution, Section 15 of the Court of Appeal Act and Paragraph 8 of the First Schedule of the Electoral Act 2022, to seek the court’s intervention.

The aggrieved presidential candidates supported their ex-parte motions, dated March 23, 2023, with affidavits of urgency and non-service.

Tinubu’s opponents persuaded the court to hear the applications outside the pre-hearing session of their substantive petitions.

Justice Ikyegh then pronounced the panel’s decision on the petitions: “Having heard the applications by counsel to the petitioners including the affidavit in support, the applications are hereby granted.”

The court also granted leave to the Allied Peoples Movement (APM) party to serve its petition on Tinubu by substituted means.

Four presidential candidates had on Tuesday approached the tribunal with separate petitions, seeking the nullification of the declaration of Tinubu of the APC, by the Independent National Electoral Commission, as winner of the February 25 presidential poll.

The petitioners seeking nullification of Tinubu’s emergence as President-elect are Abubakar of the PDP, Obi of the LP, Solomon Okangbuan of the Action Alliance, and Chichi Ojei of the Allied Peoples Movement.

The petition by Obi and LP, marked CA/PEPC/03/2023, had INEC, Tinubu, his running mate, Kashim Shettima, and the APC as respondents. In it, Obi further argued that Tinubu was not the choice of the majority of the lawful votes during the Presidential polls. According to his petition, he can prove that 11 states were rigged by the uploaded results.

Atiku and PDP’s petition was marked marked CA/PEPC/05/2023, with INEC, Tinubu and APC listed as respondents.

Essentially, the petition wants Tinubu’s victory annulled.