PEPT judgment will enrich electoral jurisprudence, says Olatubora

Written by Benjamin Adewumi

A former Commissioner for Education in Ondo State and a Senior Advocate of Nigeria, Dr. Remi Olatubora, has said that the judgment of the Presidential Election Petition Tribunal (PEPT) that dismissed the petition of Atiku Abubakar and his party, the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), for lack of merit will enrich the nation’s electoral jurisprudence and serve as a guide for future elections.

In an interview with FRIDAY OLOKOR, Olatubora analysed the judgment and its implications for the electoral system and the candidates. He advised candidates who intend to challenge election results in court to be well prepared and have specific evidence from the polling units where they allege non-compliance. He also explained the constitutional requirements for a presidential candidate to be declared the winner, including scoring the majority of the lawful votes cast and at least 25 per cent of the votes in two-thirds of the states and the Federal Capital Territory (FCT).

He said the tribunal addressed the status of the FCT and ruled that it is not a state but a part of Nigeria. He also commented on the issue of electronic transmission of results and the controversy over President Muhammadu Buhari’s certificate. He said the tribunal applied the law correctly and upheld Buhari’s victory.

He also discussed the need for electoral reform and reducing post-election litigations by devising a foolproof electoral system. He said that politicians should not look for loopholes and sabotage the law, but rather respect the will of the people.

He also agreed with Nobel Laureate, Prof. Wole Soyinka, who said that Peter Obi, the presidential candidate of Labour Party in 2023, did not win the election, despite the belief of his supporters. He said that Obi’s petition did not plead any specific non-compliance or challenge Atiku’s scores, and that Obi only won on social media but lost at the polls. He praised Soyinka as a man who is never flippant with his opinions and who must have consulted some lawyers before making his statement.

He also talked about the challenges of approaching the Supreme Court and why new facts cannot be introduced at that stage. He argued that the Supreme Court will only decide on the basis of facts and law that are already on record. He said he has hope in the Supreme Court, but it has to be on the basis of fact and law.

He concluded by saying that he was impressed by the quality of judgment delivered by the tribunal and that it will enhance public confidence in the judiciary. He said he hopes that Nigerians will learn from this experience and improve their electoral conduct and culture.

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