Election Tribunal: Heavy Security at PEPC as Nation Awaits Fate

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The nation holds its breath today as the Presidential Election Petition Court (PEPC) prepares to deliver a historic judgment that could potentially alter the course of Nigerian politics.

The PEPC headquarters in Abuja resembles a fortress, with heavily armed security personnel from various agencies deployed to ensure order and safety.

In an unprecedented show of security measures, the Nigeria Army, Nigeria Police Force, and the Nigeria Civil Defence and Security Corps have stationed personnel at all entry points leading to the court. Meanwhile, vigilant members of the Department of State Services (DSS) meticulously verify the identities of everyone seeking access to the premises.

The PEPC’s strict accreditation policy has prevented its staff members from entering the premises, highlighting the gravity and sensitivity of the impending verdict. However, the court has promised transparency by permitting a live broadcast of its judgment on the three petitions.

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The three petitions, bearing the marks CA/PEPC/03/2023, CA/PEPC/05/2023, and CA/PEPC/04/2023, were lodged by prominent political figures. Mr. Peter Obi of the Labour Party, Alhaji Atiku Abubakar of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), and the Allied Peoples Movement (APM) have all sought to challenge the victory of President Bola Tinubu of the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) in the presidential election held on February 25, 2023.

The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) had initially declared President Tinubu the winner with a total of 8,794,726 votes. This outcome was disputed by Atiku and Obi, both of whom claimed victory and challenged Tinubu’s eligibility to run for office.

The petitioners’ requests are clear: they aim to prove that President Tinubu did not secure the majority of lawful votes, leading to the withdrawal of his Certificate of Return issued by INEC or the call for a fresh presidential election, excluding Tinubu due to his alleged ineligibility.

The court’s timeline for judgment adheres to the Electoral Act 2022, which mandates a 21-day window for petitioners to file their grievances after INEC announces election results, followed by a 180-day window for the court to deliver its written judgment.

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The PEPC concluded its hearings on July 5, 2023, with extensive presentations from the petitioners, who called upon numerous witnesses and submitted numerous exhibits.

In contrast, INEC and President Tinubu’s legal teams concluded their defense with minimal witnesses, and the APC failed to produce any witnesses in court.

All respondents have urged the court to dismiss the petitions, asserting that the petitioners have failed to meet the burden of proof required by law.

As Nigeria awaits the PEPC’s judgment with bated breath, the outcome of this historic case will undoubtedly shape the nation’s political landscape for years to come.

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