EXCLUSIVE: TRIBUNAL: Meet Court Of Appeal Judges To Determine Peter Obi, Atiku’s Petition Against Tinubu, INEC
The petitions challenging the 2023 presidential election will be determined by the Presidential Election Petition Tribunal, PEPT, Court sitting at the Court of Appeal in Abuja.
The PEPT which is the court of first instance and has jurisdiction in presidential-election-related petitions will be manned by selected Court of Appeal judges.
Recall that the Chief Justice of Nigeria (CJN), Justice Olukayode Lateef Ariwoola had late last year inaugurated two hundred and seventy-seven election petitions tribunal judges to preside over matters relating to 2023 governorship, national and state assembly elections.
The presidential election petition tribunal judges are yet to be officially declared.
So far, there are five petitions against the presidential election which are from Peter Obi and the Labour party, Atiku Abubakar and Peoples Democratic Party, Action Alliance (AA) and its presidential candidate Mr Solomon Okangbuan Allied People’s Movement (APM) and its presidential candidate, Princess Chichi Ojei and Actions Peoples Party.
Quoting THE WHISTLER, it was exclusively gathered from an official familiar with developments within the Court of Appeal and the National Judicial Council (of which the Court of Appeal president is a member), that the panel of judges that had already begun sitting on motions-exparte earlier filed by respective petitioners is most likely to be retained to continue presiding over the case when pre-hearing and full hearing sessions begin at the PEPT.
The panel of judges from the Court of Appeal who had presided over motions involving the 2023 presidential election and may be in the 2023 Presidential Election Petition Tribunal, PEPT panel are below:
JUSTICE HARUNA SIMON TSAMMANI
Tsammani (64) from Bauchi state was appointed to the Court of Appeal on 16th July 2010. He served as the Chairman of the three-man panel that granted Obi and Atiku’s motions to serve Tinubu their petitions by substituted means. He graduated from the Nigerian Law School, Lagos in 1983 and started out as High Court judge, in Bauchi state on 17th September 1998.
Tsammani has presided over various election and financial matters as a judge.
One of those cases is a petition filed by the former Governor of Oyo State, Abiola Ajimobi, challenging the judgment of the 2019 Election Petition Tribunal which had on November 19 same year upheld PDP’s Kola Balogun as the winner of the senatorial election for Oyo South held on February that year.
Balogun was said to have polled a total of 105,720 votes to defeat Ajimobi who garnered 92,218 votes but the latter disagreed and approached the Court of Appeal in Ibadan for redress.
Ajimobi based his petition on the allegation that his PDP counterpact was not qualified to represent his party at the election.
But Justice Haruna Tsammani who prepared the lead judgment dismissed Ajimobi’s petition for lacking in merit, holding that a person who was not part of a political party has no right to challenge the outcome of its primary election.
JUSTICE STEPHEN JONAH ADAH
Adah (66) served as a member of the three-man panel that granted Obi and Atiku’s motions to serve Tinubu their petitions by substituted means. He is from De-Kina LGA of Kogi State. He passed out from the Nigerian Law School in 1982 and became a Federal High Court judge on November 12, 1998 prior to his promotion to the Court of Appeal on November 5, 2012.
Adah has passed verdicts on several cases and one of his landmark decision was in the appeal filed by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission in 2020 against a trial court’s decision which partially upheld the no-case submission filed by former President Goodluck Jonathan’s cousin, Robert Azibaola.
The antigraft agency had instituted $40 million money laundering charges against him.
But Adah dismissed the appeal saying EFCC could not prove the allegation beyond reasonable doubt.
“The trial court was in order to discharge and acquit Azibaola and his company in counts 1,4,5,6,7,8 and 9 because offences of money laundering were not sufficiently proved, nor did the prosecution establish any prima facie case against the respondents.
“We have gone through the records and found that the appeal is lacking in merit, the appeal is hereby dismissed and the Judgment of the lower court upheld”, Mr Adah said.
JUSTICE ABBA BELLO MOHAMMED
Mohammed (62) from Kano State was part of the three-man panel that granted Obi and Atiku’s motions to serve Tinubu their petitions by substituted means