Feature: Rundown of FactCheckElections PEPT Reports

Oluwaseye Ogunsanya 

In just a matter of hours from now, the Presidential Election Petition Tribunal (PEPT), sitting in Abuja will deliver judgment on petitions seeking to nullify President Bola Tinubu’s election. This development gave many Nigerians especially keen observers a breather after many days of waiting and expecting. 

Recall that the Independent National Electoral Commision (INEC) had on March 1st, declared Tinubu as the winner of the presidential election having polled 8,794,726 votes to defeat Atiku Abubakar of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) who got 6,984,520, and Peter Obi of the Labour Party (LP) who polled 6,101,533 votes.

Unsatisfied with the result, five political parties including the PDP, LP, Action Peoples Party (APP), Allied Peoples Movement (APM) and the Action Alliance (AA) filed separate petitions asking the tribunal to nullify Tinubu’s victory. However, shortly after the pre-hearing session commenced in May, the APP, and AA withdrew their petitions. 

Among other issues, the petitioners submitted that since Tinubu failed to secure 25 percent of votes cast in the federal capital territory (FCT) he should not have been declared winner of the February 25 election.

They claimed that the president was indicted for drug trafficking in the United States, that his academic certificates submitted to the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) were forged, and that Tinubu is a citizen of Guinea. Therefore, Tinubu and Kashim Shettima, the vice-president, were not eligible to contest the presidential poll.

This article chronicles some of the reports by FactCheckElections from the tribunal proceedings which has been tipped to be arguably the most followed and anticipated in Nigeria’s recent history.

Explainer On Presidential Election Petition 

With the commencement of the tribunal pre-hearing session, we started our sojourn with an explainer here which highlights the reasons for the election petition tribunal as enshrined in the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria and the Electoral Act, 2022 as well as the composition of the Court by the Nigeria Court of Appeal. We also took a look into the petitions of each candidate and party as well as their prayers. 

FactCheck on Presidential Tribunal Dismissal of Obi’s Drug Petition Against Tinubu

Similarly, we also did a factcheck on a claim which stated that the tribunal had dismissed Peter Obi’s drug petition against Bola Tinubu here. Our findings showed that the tribunal did not dismiss Peter Obi’s drug petition against Bola Ahmed Tinubu but rather adjourned the entire petition case to 10th May 2023. 

Analysis of Trending Post-elections and Tribunal Election Petitions Misinformation Reports 

As the proceedings of the tribunal gets underway, FactCheckElections observed that there were post-elections and tribunal election petitions mis-information trends and we did a fact check of those claims here with the aim of sensitizing the general public especially those following the tribunal proceedings as well as the post-election party issues on the need to confirm any piece of information from official sources or credible media outlets. 

FactCheck On Tribunal Setting September 16 2023 as Judgement Date

Subsequently, after the tribunal’s proceedings came to a close with the adoption of final written addresses by the petitioners and the respondents leading to reservation of judgement by the five-member panel of justices led by Harunna Tsammani, the misinformation peddlers went to work again after the Appeal Court’s long silence as regards setting a date to deliver judgment.

This time around, the judiciary was under intense blackmail as the hashtag #eyesonthejudiciary trended for days, they also peddled rumours that best suit their preferred candidate on social media platforms among others. But FactCheckElections did a factcheck on a particular claim here stating that the judges have set aside September 16 2023 (the last day as provided by the law) as the day to deliver judgement.

We found the claim to be false as there’s no official statement from the Appeal Court to confirm it. However, the Court released a statement on Monday confirming that the Presidential Election Petition Tribunal will give its verdict on Wednesday (tomorrow).

Conclusion

As Nigerians anticipate today’s judgment, it is important to note that the decision of the court is not final, as an unsatisfied party still has the opportunity to appeal to the Supreme Court. The supreme court has 60 days from the date of the delivery of the judgment of the tribunal to hear and dispose of the appeal.

By and large, the election petition tribunal has three possible outcomes.

The first outcome is for the tribunal to uphold the election outcome as initially announced by INEC, the second outcome is for the election to be nullified and a fresh election ordered, while the third option is for the election result to be rejected, the initially declared winner removed and the petitioner installed as the actual winner of the election.

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