The Presidential Election Petitions Court(PEPC) has fixed Monday for the hearing of the petitions challenging the declaration of the All Progressives Congress standard bearer, Bola Tinubu as the president-elect.
With this development, the expected legal battle by candidates disputing the outcome of the 2023 presidential poll will commence from May 8.
The National Legal Adviser of the All Progressives Congress (APC), Ahmad El-Marzuq, confirmed the date on Tuesday.
He said the APC legal team had been briefed and was ready to defend the party’s mandate.
“We have been briefed about the hearing coming up next week. But who told you the election petitions at the tribunal must necessarily be concluded before May 29?
“Are you saying if they were not concluded before President Buhari leaves office, the government should be left in a vacuum and the president-elect should not be sworn in? It is not a must,’’ he stated in response to a question about the time it would take for the petitions to be decided.
Also, a top official of the election petitions tribunal affirmed that the hearing proceedings would start on Monday.
Speaking on condition of anonymity because he was not authorised to release the information, he said, ‘’The Presidential election tribunal has fixed Monday, May 8th as for the hearing of the petitions challenging the victory of the President-elect, Bola Tinubu.’’
A member of Tinubu’s legal team, Tayo Oyetibo SAN, also said the hearing had been scheduled to commence next week.
Oyetibo, who spoke to our correspondent on Tuesday, said,” Yes the hearing is on Monday, but it’s for a pre-hearing session. The hearing is to clarify if there are any applications before the main hearing will start. The timetable will be set for the hearing of the substantive matters.”
Findings also showed that the court stopped receiving replies from the petitioners on April 23.
The Chairman of the Independent National Electoral Commission, Mahmood Yakubu, had on March 1 declared Tinubu the president-elect on the grounds that his party scored the majority of votes cast in the polls.
The former Lagos state governor had polled 8.8 million to defeat Atiku Abubakar of the Peoples Democratic Party who scored 6.9mn, Peter Obi of the Labour Party who amassed 6.1mn and 15 others.
Dissatisfied with the result, Atiku and Obi filed separate petitions seeking orders to annul the election or declare them the winners of the polls.
The PDP presidential candidate, who anchored his seven prayers on five grounds, asked the Presidential Election Tribunal to declare him the president-elect.
Alternatively, Atiku urged the court to cancel the election and order a fresh election due to alleged irregularities that marred the February 25 polls in thousands of polling units.
His team of senior lawyers led by Joe-Kyari Gadzama, SAN, filed the petition at the Presidential Election Petition Court.
In their 66-page petition, Atiku and his party argued that as of March 1 when Tinubu was declared the winner of the election, the entire results and accreditation data from polling units had not been transmitted and uploaded by INEC.
Obi, who came third in the election, alleged that the election was characterised by various irregularities including the non-qualification of Tinubu and his running mate, Kashim Shettima to contest the election.
He also alleged that Tinubu failed to win the majority of the lawful votes cast in the election, and just as he could not secure one-quarter of the lawful votes cast in the FCT.
He equally alleged that the election was conducted in substantial non-compliance with the provision of the law.