The five-member panel of the court, led by Justice Haruna Tsammani, has disclosed its intention not to read all the arguments presented during the hearing.
The panel stated that although all three cases challenging President Tinubu’s election were consolidated, the petitions would retain their separate identities.
While the petition by the Labour Party and its presidential candidate, Peter Obi, was called first, the panel initiated its verdict with that of the APM.
The APM's petition, marked: CA/PEPC/04/2023, cited the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), the All Progressives Congress (APC), President Tinubu, Vice President Kashim Shettima, and Mr. Kabiru Masari as the 1st to 5th defendants.
During the hearing, the petitioner, represented by its lawyer, Mr. Andrew Malgwi, SAN, urged the court to remove Tinubu from office and withdraw the Certificate of Return issued to him by INEC. In contrast, all the defendants requested the court to dismiss the case for lack of competence.
President Tinubu, represented by his legal team led by Chief Wole Olanipekun, SAN, argued that the APM's petition against him lacked merit. He contended that the sole issue the party relied upon, which concerned allegations that his Vice President, Shettima, was nominated twice by the APC for different elective positions, had already been decided by the Supreme Court. President Tinubu argued that APM's petition not only failed to disclose a reasonable cause of action against him but was also devoid of substance.
Similarly, both the APC's counsel, Prince Lateef Fagbemi, SAN, and INEC's counsel, Mr. Steven Adehi, SAN, separately urged the court to dismiss the petition. The APC argued that Tinubu's nomination and eligibility to contest the presidential election were without fault, while INEC supported the election's outcome.
After listening to all the parties, the Justice Tsammani-led panel stated that it would communicate the judgment date to them.
The APM's petition contended that the withdrawal of Mr. Masari, who was initially nominated as the APC's Vice-Presidential candidate, invalidated Tinubu's candidacy in view of Section 131(c) and 142 of the 1999 Constitution, as amended. The party argued that there was a gap of about three weeks between Masari's intention to withdraw, the actual withdrawal of his nomination, and Tinubu's nomination of Shettima as his replacement.
APM further argued that Tinubu's candidacy had lapsed by the time he nominated Shettima as Masari's replacement. It prayed the court to declare that Shettima was not qualified to contest as the APC's Vice-Presidential candidate on February 25, when the election was conducted by INEC, as he had violated the provisions of Section 35 of the Electoral Act, 2022.
The court had previously suspended further proceedings in the matter after President Tinubu's counsel, Chief Olanipekun, SAN, drew attention to a Supreme Court judgment that he argued had settled the issue raised by the APM in its petition. Chief Olanipekun maintained that the Supreme Court's decision on President Tinubu's nomination by the APC touched on the substance of APM's petition.