By Ikechukwu Nnochiri, Abuja
The Presidential Election Petition Court, PEPC, on Monday, held its inaugural session, a legal ritual that precedes the actual hearing of petitions seeking to nullify the outcome of the 2023 presidential election.
At the session, a five-member panel of Justices of the Court of Appeal that will hear and determine all the five petitions challenging the declaration of Bola Tinubu of the ruling All Progressives Congress, APC, as the winner of the presidential election, were revealed.
Whereas the panel will be headed by the Presiding Justice (PJ) of the Abuja Division of the Court of Appeal, Justice Haruna Tsammani, other members of the panel are; Justice Stephen Adah (PJ Asaba Division), Justice Monsurat Bolaji-Yusuf (Asaba Division), Justice Boluokuromo Ugo (Kano Division), as well as Justice Abba Mohammed (Ibadan Division).
In his opening remarks, the Presiding Justice, Tsammani, urged lawyers representing all the petitioners to avoid sensational comments, stressing that the court would not tolerate time-wasting tactics and technicalities.
He said: “As we commence hearing of the petitions, let us avoid making sensational comments. Let us consider the safety and interest of the country, that is paramount.
“We should avoid unnecessary time-wasting applications and objections so that we can look at substance of the case rather than unnecessary technicalities.
“Let us corporate with each other so that everyone will be satisfied that justice has been done”.
Responding, lead counsel to the President-elect, Chief Wole Olanipekun, SAN, assured the court of the maximum corporation of his team, saying there was a need for the matter to be determined without recourse to unnecessary technicalities.
Likewise, the head of the team of lawyers representing the presidential candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, Atiku Abubakar, Chief Chris Uche, SAN, said they would do everything possible to assist the court to do justice.
On his part, Dr Livy Uzoukwu, SAN, who is representing the Labour Party and its candidate, Mr Peter Obi, noted that the petitions were of great public interest, saying “At the end of the day, I am very confident that the petitions will impact on Nigeria’s jurisprudence and constitutionalism”.
“We will do everything possible to assist your Lordships,” he added.
Likewise, the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, through its lawyer, Mr A. B. Mahmood, SAN, expressed confidence in the electoral body on the ability of the court to do justice on all the petitions before it.
“My lords, we are confident that at the end of the day, justice will be done,” Mahmood, SAN, stated.
Meanwhile, the court said it would only conduct pre-hearing session on three of the petition, while the remaining two petitions would be heard on Tuesday.
The three petitions the court said it would hear, were the ones the Action Alliance, AA, filed against INEC, that of the All Peoples Party, APP, as well as the petition by Obi and the LP.
While the remaining petitions are the ones filed by the Allied Peoples Movement, APM, and Atiku of the PDP.