The Supreme Court has scheduled a hearing for Monday, October 23, in the appeal by Atiku Abubakar and Peter Obi who were candidates of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and the Labour Party (LP) in the last presidential election.
The apex court, it was learnt, will also hear the appeal by the Allied Peoples Movement (APM) on Monday.
ABN TV gathered that information to that effect has since been communicated to parties in the three appeals via hearing notices issued on October 19 by the Registry of the Supreme Court.
Atiku/PDP, Obi/LP and the APM are, by their appeals, challenging the September 6, consolidated judgment rendered by the Presidential Election Petition Court (PEPC) which dismissed their (Atiku/PDP, Obi/LP and the APM’s) petitions for being unmeritorious, lacking a merit and, on the grounds that the petitioners failed to prove their cases.
They had, in the petitions, challenged the victory of President Bola Tinubu in the February 25 presidential election.
In their 35-ground appeal, Atiku and his party want the apex court to, among others, reverse the judgment of the PEPC as it relates to their petition.
Obi and his party also filed a 51-ground appeal, in which they are also seeking similar reliefs.
On its part, the APM, in its 10-ground appeal, is principally, praying the apex court to void Tinubu’s election on the grounds that his running mate, Senator Kashim Shettima was not validly nominated.
The verdict, which was unanimously declared the petitions by PDP, LP, the Allied Peoples Movement (APM) and their candidates as unmeritorious, lacking a merit and for failure prove their cases beyond reasonable doubt.
In their appeal, the PDP and Atiku are contending, among others, that the judgment of the PEPC is against the weight of evidence.
They are equally contending that the PEPC “erred in law when it refused to uphold the mandatory electronic transmission of results for confirmation and verification of final results introduced by the Electoral Act 2022 for transparency and integrity of results in accordance with the principles of the Act.”
According to them, the Electoral Act 2022 introduced technology in the conduct of elections, particularly in the transmission and collation of results, being part of the election process easily susceptible to manipulation and compromise.
In ground two, the appellants argued that the PEPC erred when, despite the clear provisions of enabling statutes, including the constitution, the Electoral Act 2022, the Regulations and Guidelines for the conduct of elections and the Manual for Election Officials, it still proceeded to hold that the Bimodal Voter Accreditation System (BVAS) was not meant to be used to electronically transmit or transfer the results of the polling unit direct to the collation system.
They also faulted the PEPC for holding that the INEC Result Viewing portal (IRev) was not a collation system.
The appellants faulted the PEPC for holding that the requirement of electronic transmission of the result of the election directly from the polling units to the INEC collation system is not a requirement of the Electoral Act, 2022.
According to them, the PEPC erred in law when it failed to determine the case of the appellants with respect to the mandatory verifications and confirmations required before the announcement of the result of the presidential election, pursuant to Section 64(4) of the Electoral Act, 2022.
They also faulted the PEPC for failing “to nullify the presidential election held on 25th February 2023 on the ground of non-compliance with the Electoral Act 2022 when, by evidence before the court, the 1st respondent (INEC) conducted the election based on very grave and gross misrepresentation, contrary to the principles of the Electoral Act 2022, based on the ‘doctrine of legitimate expectation.’
The PDP and Atiku are also praying the Supreme Court to allow their appeal, set aside the judgment of the PEPC and grant the reliefs as contained in their petition.
Obi and the LP are, in their appeal, praying the apex court to, among others, set aside the judgment of the PEPC and grant the reliefs in the petition originally filed before the PEPC.
They faulted the PEPC for holding that “where the dispute involves the election in as many as 895 polling units, the pleadings in this petition, which alleged electoral malpractices, non-compliance and/or offences in some polling units, many polling units or several polling units cannot be said to have met the requirements of pleadings as stipulated in Paragraph 4(1)(d) of the 1st Schedule to the Electoral Act and/or Order 13 Rules 4(1), 5 and (6)(1) of the Federal High Court (Civil Procedure) Rules, 2009.”
They also faulted the PEPC for holding that the paragraphs of their reply to the 2nd and 3rd respondents (President Bola Tinubu and Vice President Kashim Shettima) introduced new issues, contrary to Paragraph 16(1) of the First Schedule to the Electoral Act, 2022.
They contended that the PEPC erred in law and occasioned a grave miscarriage of justice when they held that the onus was on them (the appellants) to prove that INEC failed to comply with the mandatory requirements of Sections 73(2) of the Electoral Act, 2022 in the conduct of the presidential election.
The appellants argued that PEPC erred in law when they held that, among others, any written statement on oath of a witness, filed outside the 21-day limitation will amount to a surreptitious amendment of the petition and a breach of paragraph 14 of the 1st Schedule to the Electoral Act, irrespective of whether the witnesses to be called are ordinary or expert witnesses, or whether they are willing or subpoenaed witnesses.
They also contended that the PEPC “erred in law and occasioned a grave miscarriage of justice when it abdicated its primary duty of making findings on the material issue of estoppel that the appellants raised against the 1st respondent (INEC) on the electronic transmission of polling units results to the IReV.”
According to Obi and the LP “the learned Justices of the court below erred in law and came to a perverse decision when they held that PW3, PW4, PW, PW6, PW7, PW8, PW9, PW10, PW11, and P’W13 were not witnesses of the court, but those of the appellants, who had paid fees for the issuance of the subpoena.”
They added: “The learned trial Justices of the court below erred in law when they held that since Exhibit X2 was a copy of the European Union Election Observation Mission Nigeria 2023 Final Report, certified by the Registry of the Court of Appeal and not by the European Union Election Observation Mission, ‘which is the custodian of the original copy of the document.”
The APM, in its appeal, is contending, among others that the PEPC erred in law “when it wrongfully waved aside the allegation that Tinubu’s running mate and Vice President, Kashim Shettima, was nominated twice for different positions by the APC, in relation to the 2023 general elections.
The party is also contending that it was wrong for the PEPC to dismiss its case against Tinubu’s election on the premise that it was not only incompetent but contained pre-election issues.
It argued that sections 131 and 142 (1) of the 1999 Constitution, as amended, were inextricably linked “and neither can be confined as a pre-election matter, as these qualifications are condition precedents to being elected to the office of President.”
“The Appellant’s petition was not one founded solely on the nomination, but primarily that the 3rd respondent (Tinubu) contested the presidential election without a lawful associate running as his Vice President.
“That the withdrawal of (Mr. Ibrahim Masari) 5th Respondent and the expiry of the 14 days permissible for changing a withdraw or dead candidate under section 33 of the Electoral Act 2022, made the 3rd Respondent’s election and return invalid.”
The APM argued that the PEPC abandoned its duty and jurisdiction of hearing and determining the question of whether President Tinubu and Vice President Shettima were validly elected under the law, in view of provisions of section 239(1) of the 1999 Constitution, as amended.