Nigerians Await Outcome of Presidential Election Petition Tribunal Amidst Concerns over Credibility of 2023 Election

…By Enitan Thompson for TDPel Media. Nigerians have been closely following the ongoing Presidential Election Petition Tribunal, which is currently hearing petitions against President-elect Bola Tinubu and the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC).

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Although the voting season has ended, there are concerns among Nigerians who believe that the electoral process on February 25th was not credible.

They are eagerly awaiting the outcome of the tribunal.

Challenging the Election Results

The presidential candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Atiku Abubakar, and the flag bearer of the Labour Party (LP), Peter Obi, are dissatisfied with Tinubu’s declaration as the winner and have decided to file lawsuits contesting INEC’s declaration.

One particular controversy surrounding the 2023 presidential election is whether a candidate can be declared the winner without obtaining 25% of the votes in the Federal Capital Territory (FCT).

This has raised questions from politicians, lawyers, and concerned Nigerians.

Interview with Segun Awosanya on the Impact of Petitions on Nigeria’s Democracy

Naija News conducted an interview with Segun Awosanya (Segalink), an Institutional Reforms Advocate, to discuss the impact of the petitions before the Presidential Tribunal on Nigeria’s democracy.

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According to Awosanya, it is within the rights of parties that feel aggrieved to challenge election outcomes, as this is a common occurrence in various countries.

He emphasizes that no election is perfect and that Nigerian elections have historically been marred by rigging, violence, and intimidation.

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However, the electoral body’s decision at the presidential level has never been overturned.

Awosanya explains that the law requires contenders to prove certain conditions to challenge the validity of an election, such as demonstrating irregularities or the candidate’s disqualification based on constitutional criteria.

He also mentions that the doctrine of substantial compliance recognizes that no election is flawless but requires substantial evidence to upset the election results.

He believes that questioning the outcome of an election is not a dent on Nigeria’s democracy but rather a part of the democratic process itself.

The Impartiality of Nigeria’s Legal System

Regarding whether Nigeria’s legal system favors politicians or allows the highest bidder to win, Awosanya expresses his belief in the judiciary as the third estate of the realm.

While he acknowledges that the justice system may not always be equitable and fair, he states that Election Tribunals treat cases in a unique and specific manner.

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He points out that societal decay and biased sentiments can influence perceptions of fairness, with some elections being viewed as free and fair while others are labeled as influenced by the highest bidder.

Awosanya clarifies that no legal system is designed to act for or against anyone and emphasizes that the system is governed by the law of evidence.

The Possibility of Removing a Rigged Presidential Candidate

Awosanya is optimistic that rigging in elections will diminish if lawyers present strong arguments and evidence to prove the invalidity of the electoral body’s declaration.

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He believes that justice will prevail at the tribunal or the apex court if the parties meet the legal requirements and provide substantial evidence.

Opinions on Petitions Filed Before the Presidential Tribunal

Awosanya’s optimism is measured due to the focus on propaganda and public incitement during the election, which hindered the collection of evidence and witnesses for the tribunals.

He expresses doubts about the sufficiency of evidence in many of the presented cases and anticipates that several prayers will be struck out due to lack of diligent prosecution.

He suggests exploring different schools of thought and harmonizing interpretations of the law rather than fixating on a single track.

He also points out the contradiction of claiming an election is marred by irregularities while simultaneously praying to be declared the winner of the same election.

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Interpretation of the Law and 25% Requirement in FCT

Awosanya believes that lawyers should not solely interpret the law, as this is the court’s responsibility.

He expects the Tribunal or the Supreme Court to clarify the interpretation of the law, especially regarding the 25% requirement in the FCT.

He emphasizes the need to avoid future distractions where parties with no substantial national appeal seek to manipulate their way into the conversation by challenging election outcomes.

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Swearing-In of the President-Elect and Tribunal Petitions

Awosanya asserts that the swearing-in of the President-Elect is constitutional and must proceed as scheduled.

He cites previous instances where governors were sworn in despite pending cases before the tribunal, emphasizing that governance cannot stop due to petitions.

He believes that diligent and responsible litigators should focus on winning time by demonstrating preparedness at the tribunal, but he criticizes the over-padding of petitions and the unnecessary exhibition of counsels, which waste time and abuse the court process.

Awosanya acknowledges that the process itself takes time, especially the review of evidence and cross-examination of witnesses, considering the number of petitioners.

However, he criticizes the lack of respect for the tribunal’s time shown by counsels over the years.

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About the Author:

Eni Thompson is a seasoned and experienced writer with over 18 years of experience in news compilation. With a special interest in transforming any occurrence into newsworthy content, Eni has honed his skills in providing comprehensive accounts of events that he has witnessed or heard. With a passion for journalism and a commitment to excellence, Eni has established himself as a reliable and respected writer in the field of news reporting. He lives in Sydney, Australia.

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