The Presidential Election Petition Court in Abuja has accepted the final report of the European Union Observer Mission on the February 25 presidential election as evidence.
The report was submitted by the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and its candidate, Atiku Abubakar, who are contesting the election results.
The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) declared President Bola Tinubu of the All Progressives Congress (APC) the poll winner.
The EU report, presented last week, stated that the election fell short of expectations.
The EU’s Chief Observer, Barry Andrews, noted that the election revealed systemic weaknesses, indicating the need for further legal and operational reforms to enhance transparency, inclusiveness, and accountability.
The EU also stated that INEC’s conduct of the election eroded public trust in the commission.
However, the Presidency, through the President’s Special Adviser on Special Duties, Communication and Strategy, Dele Alake, accused the EU of bias and an intention to “impeach the integrity of the 2023 elections”.
The Presidency described the elections as the “best organised general elections in Nigeria since 1999”.
At the tribunal, Atiku’s lawyer, Chris Uche (SAN), presented the EU report while cross-examining an INEC witness, Lawrence Bayode.
Bayode admitted that only 31 per cent of the presidential election result was uploaded onto INEC’s result viewing portal as of March 1, 2023, when Tinubu was declared the winner.
The acceptance of the EU report, as evidenced by the Presidential Election Petition Court, is a significant development in the ongoing legal challenge to the February 25 presidential election.
This decision underscores the importance of international observer missions in ensuring the credibility of our elections.
However, the divergent views expressed by the EU and the Presidency on the conduct of the election highlight the need for a more transparent and accountable electoral process.
While the Presidency has described the election as the “best organised” since 1999, the EU report suggests otherwise. This discrepancy requires a thorough review of our electoral processes to ensure that future elections meet international standards.
Moreover, the revelation that only 31 per cent of the presidential election result was uploaded onto INEC’s result viewing portal as of the time Tinubu was declared the winner raises severe concerns about the transparency of the result collation process.
INEC must address these concerns to restore public trust in its operations.
Did You Know?
- The Presidential Election Petition Court is a special court established to hear and determine petitions challenging the outcome of presidential elections.
- The court is composed of five justices of the Court of Appeal.
- The court has 180 days from filing the petition to deliver its judgment.
- The decision of the Presidential Election Petition Court is final and cannot be appealed.
- The court has heard and determined several high-profile election petitions, including those challenging the outcomes of the 2007, 2011, 2015, and 2019 presidential elections.
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