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Hearing of Election Petitions Underway in Nigeria

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Nigeria’s Presidential Election Petition Court (PEPC) is scheduled to commence hearing of the petitions as various aggrieved political parties want tribunal to pay attention to substance, not technicalities.

Despite the controversies generated by the general elections and the sense of urgency, some Nigerians had argued should follow the election petitions.

Former president of the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA), Dr. Olisa Agbakoba (SAN) had recently argued that the court could determine the cases before May 29 handover, if it speeds up the process to reduce tension being generated owing to the fact that the declared winner would assume office, while the legitimacy of his victory is still being challenged.

However, it appears the jurists are not persuaded by such arguments, since the law grants them power to set aside any victory not obtained in accordance with the law whether or not the winner is already in office.

According to the secretariat of the PEPC, which is the Court of Appeal, the petitions are not yet ripe for hearing as the replies to petitions are still being awaited before a date would be fixed.

The Electoral Act, 2022, in Section 132 (7) & (8), provides that election petitions are to be filed within 21 days after declaration of results. The respondents also have 21 days to respond to the petitions.

In all, the court has 180 days to decide the petitions and law permits day-to-day hearing, once it starts.

Currently, five political parties and their candidates have filed a petition against the President-elect, Bola Ahmed Tinubu of the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) within the time allowed by the law.

Already, APC has responded to petitions by the five political parties, alongside the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), while that of some parties and more responses are still awaited.

Aminu Masari and Kashim Shettima’s responses are still awaited, as well as that of Hamza Al-Mustapha, who were joined in some of the petitions.

After responses of all the respondents to the petition, the Court of Appeal president will identify members of the panel, and fix the date for commencement of hearing.

After the March 1 declaration of Tinubu as winner of the February 25 presidential poll, political parties and their candidates challenged the results declared by INEC.


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