The Presidential Election Petition Tribunal sitting in Abuja, on Friday, ordered the candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party, Atiku Abubakar, and his Labour Party counterpart, Peter Obi, to serve the President-elect, Bola Tinubu, with copies of petitions seeking to nullify his election through substituted means.
The court specifically ordered that the petitions should be served on Tinubu, through his political party, the All Progressives Congress.
The ruling by a three-man panel of the court, led by Justice Joseph Ikyegh, followed separate motions ex parte filed by Abubakar and Obi before the court.
The PDP and LP candidates had accused Tinubu of deliberately avoiding being served their petitions. The petitioners told the court that several attempts by them to serve the petitions on the APC candidate proved abortive.
Leader of Atiku and Obi’s legal teams, Eyitayo Jegede (SAN) and Ikechukwu Ezechukwu (SAN) separately moved the applications on Friday.
The lawyers relied on Section 6(6a) and 36(1) of the 1999 Constitution, Section 15 of the Court of Appeal Act and Paragraph 8 of the First Schedule of the Electoral Act 2022, to seek the court’s intervention.
The aggrieved presidential candidates supported their ex-parte motions, dated March 23, 2023, with affidavits of urgency and non-service.
Tinubu’s opponents persuaded the court to hear the applications outside the pre-hearing session of their substantive petitions.
Delivering the ruling of the panel on the applications, Justice Ikyegh said, “Having heard the applications by counsel to the petitioners including the affidavit in support, the applications are hereby granted.”
Similarly, the court granted leave to another party, Allied Peoples Movement, to also serve its petition on Tinubu via substituted means.
Four presidential candidates had on Tuesday approached the tribunal with separate petitions, seeking the nullification of the declaration of Tinubu of the APC, by the Independent National Electoral Commission, as winner of the February 25 presidential poll.
The petitioners seeking nullification of Tinubu’s emergence as President- elect are Abubakar of the PDP, Obi of the LP, Solomon Okangbuan of the Action Alliance, and Chichi Ojei of the Allied Peoples Movement.
Abubakar of the PDP came second with 6,984,520 votes while Obi came third with 6,101,533 votes.
The petition by Obi and LP, marked CA/PEPC/03/2023, had INEC, Tinubu, his running mate, Kashim Shettima, and the APC as respondents.
In the petition, Obi further contended that Tinubu “was not duly elected by majority of the lawful votes cast at the time of the election.”
Obi claimed there was rigging in 11 states, adding that he would demonstrate this in the declaration of results based on the uploaded results.
Atiku and PDP’s petition was marked marked CA/ PEPC/05/2023, with INEC, Tinubu and APC listed as respondents.
Essentially, the petition wants Tinubu’s victory nullified.