The Supreme Court on Thursday morning dismissed PDP’s Presidential Candidate bid to bring in the Chicago State University Certificate of President Bola Ahmed Tinubu, saying that it lacks jurisdiction after the closure of 180 days allowed by the constitution and the Electoral Act 2022.
The court equally dismissed all other grounds of appeal brought before it by the Presidential candidate of Labour Party, Peter Obi thereby upholding the victory of President Tinubu at the polls.
In the lead judgment read by Justice Inyang Okoro, the court said Atiku’s petition is a joke, saying that the court had in several decisions made the stand that the 180 days window allowed by the constitution to litigate on elections is sacrosanct “like a rock of Gibraltar that cannot be moved”.
Justice Okoro said: “Election petition proceedings are sui generis. This application relates to fresh evidence after the expiration of the jurisdiction of the court below(Court of Appeal). This court cannot do what the lower courts did not do, particularly when the jurisdiction of the lower court has expired. What the applicant has sought to do is to amend his petition, contrary to the provision of the Electoral Act;
The applicant has not even applied to this court for the amendment. It is strange to have this kind of argument in print. It could pass for a joke! Since the lower court lacks the jurisdiction to entertain this application, it follows that this court, this supreme court cannot claim jurisdiction over the same. It will bring us back to the mischief the provisions were meant to cure. This application is therefore refused and therefore dismissed”.
The Apex court also ruled that the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) holds no special status in relation to the requirement for a presidential candidate to secure 25% of votes cast.
Justice Okoro asserted that the FCT does not possess any special status regarding the 25% spread of votes as stipulated in Section 134 (1) and (2) of the 1999 Constitution of Nigeria (as amended) stipulates that a presidential candidate must attain or score a majority of votes cast in a presidential election, where two or more candidates are involved, and at least 25% in two-thirds of the 36 States and FCT to meet the constitutional requirement to be declared as duly elected as President of Nigeria.
“The decision of the lower court that the FCT is equal to a state regarding the 25% of votes is unassailable. I see no difficulty in concurring with the position that the FCT has no special status in this regard,” Justice Okoro stated.
He also held that the Independent National Electoral Commission’s (INEC) failure to electronically transmit results of the 2023 presidential election to the IREV portal did not affect the outcome of the election won by Bola Tinubu. He said that the IREV portal is not a collation system and its failure does not stop the collation of election results. “Where the IREV portal fails, it does not stop the collation of results,” Justice Okoro stated.
Citing Section 135(1) of the Electoral Act 2022, the apex court held that a petitioner must prove that any non-compliance substantially affected the result of the election. Moreso, he held that Atiku did not tender original or duplicate copies of results that show the non-compliance.
Justice Okoro further stated that the appellants (Atiku and PDP) failed to provide credible evidence that INEC’s inability to transmit results electronically to IREV substantially affected the final results declared by INEC.
The judge dismissed the appeal brought by Atiku Abubakar and PDP, affirming the election of Bola Tinubu as duly elected President.
The court applied the same judgment to Obi’s appeal,except on the grounds of the nomination of Vice President Kashim Shettima which the court stated had been litigated upon before. “There must be an end to litigation”, the court concluded.
The six other Justices, Uwani Musa Abba-Aji, Mohammed Lawal Garba, Ibrahim Saulawa, Adamu Jauro, Tijjani Abubakar and Emmanuel Agim were all in agreement with the lead judgment.
The court rose at exactly 12.15.
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