Though the presidential election was held on February 25, 2023, which returned Bola Tinubu as the winner by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), the nation is gearing up towards what many Nigerians will consider one of the most heated election petitions, with the candidate of the Labour Party, Peter Obi, and Atiku Abubakar, the candidate of the Peoples’ Democratic Party (PDP), challenging the process and the declared results. Continue Reading>>>
From Obafemi Awolowo Vs Shehu Shagari’s election petition in 1979 to Muhammadu Buhari Vs Olusegun Obasanjo in 2003, presidential candidates in the past have approached the judiciary to seek redress for their election grievances. In 2019, Atiku challenged the electoral process that returned President Buhari as the winner of the polls, but it was not until eight months after the election was held that his prayer in court was struck out by the Supreme Court on October 30, 2019, for “lacking in merit.”
While Tinubu will be sworn in on May 29, 2023, many Nigerians are wondering how many days it will take the election petition tribunal to affirm or nullify his election as president. Continue Reading>>>
What is an election petition tribunal?
The Election Petition Tribunal in Nigeria is a legal body established to resolve disputes arising from elections. It is a specialised court that handles petitions filed by aggrieved parties who believe that an election was conducted unfairly or improperly.
So, how long would it take the tribunal to rule on the 2023 election through the court?
Steps for Filing an Election Petitions
For presidential elections, petitions begin with the Court of Appeal, as against normal litigation where proceedings are expected to start from the High Court. It is required by law for the Area Council Election Appeal Tribunal (the Court of Appeal) to be constituted not later than 14 days before the election and open their registries for business not later than 30 days after the election.
In Nigeria, an election petition may be presented only by candidates in an election or a political party that participated in the election.
Aggrieved candidates and political parties are expected to file their motions within 21 days after the date of the declaration of the results by INEC.
While Tinubu was returned as the winner on March 1, 2023, in a petition marked CA/PEPC/03/2023 and dated March 20, 2023, Peter Obi is asking the court to set aside the decision of INEC that declared Tinubu as the winner of the polls, claiming that the APC’s presidential candidate failed to secure legitimate votes. Similarly, Atiku, in is challenging the electoral process and the legitimacy of the results.
What is the Length of Court Proceedings?
At the Appeal Court level, five Justices will determine the petition, while seven Justices will sit to decide the appeal if Peter Obi and/or Atiku are not pleased with the decision of the Appeal Court.
The five Justices have 180 days to deliver judgment on the petition before them from the day Peter Obi and Atiku Abubakar submitted their election petitions.
Barry Andrews, EU Election Observers
Section 132(8) of the Electoral Act 2022 states that “the Tribunal shall deliver a judgment in writing within 180 days from the date of the filing of the petition.”
While the Tribunal has given Peter Obi a 21-day response period, after which a date for the hearing can be fixed, the Tribunal is expected to deliver their judgment on or before September 16, 2023, if national holidays and weekends are not accounted for.
In a situation where the decision of the Tribunal is not favorable to the petitioners, the law states that an appeal from a decision of an Area Council Election Tribunal shall be heard and disposed of within 60 days from the date of the delivery of the judgment of the Tribunal.
While the Presidency of Tinubu would be six months old, it is expected that the Supreme Court should rule on all the presidential petitions around November 15, 2023.