To invalidate Bola Tinubu’s election as the next president of Nigeria, a group of the Action Alliance (AA) has filed a petition with the Presidential Election Petition Court in Abuja.
In the presidential election on February 25, Mr. Tinubu represented the All Progressives Congress (APC).
After receiving 8.8 million votes, he won the election by defeating 15 other candidates, including Labour Party’s Peter Obi and PDP presidential candidate Atiku Abubakar.
The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) allegedly refused to post the name of the Action Alliance’s true presidential candidate, Solomon-David Okanigbuan, on its portal for the February election, leading the Action Alliance to ask the court to annul the results.
The case is one of several petitions that have been submitted by different political parties to contest the results of the presidential election.
The Peoples Democratic Party, the Labour Party, and the All Peoples Movement (APM) all filed applications before the electoral petition court in Abuja, according to PREMIUM TIMES.
The AA and Mr. Okanigbuan, who filed the petition together on March 16, said that despite ongoing court orders recognizing Mr. Okanigbuan as the legitimate standard-bearer for the presidency, the electoral umpire uploaded Hamza Al-name Mustapha instead.
The late Nigerian dictator Sani Abacha’s former chief security officer, Mr. Al-Mustapha, had been approved by INEC as AA’s presidential candidate.
In the election, Mr. Al-Mustapha received 14,542 votes.
Crisis in Leadership
Adekunle Omo-Aje, the National Chairman of Action Alliance, had claimed in January that Mr. Al-Mustapha was not the party’s official candidate for president.
He spoke as his party was roiled by a leadership conflict that led to the emergence of two presidential contenders.
Recall that Mr. Okanigbuan was chosen as the party’s presidential candidate during the party’s national convention, which was held last year and overseen by the Omo-Aje leadership.
But, on June 9, 2022, in Abuja, Mr. Al-Mustapha won the presidential primary election held by the group headed by Kenneth Udeze.
Notwithstanding court rulings stating that Udeze was no longer a party member, the election commission had recognized each and every candidate that the Udeze-led wing of the party had submitted to it. The Omo-Aje leadership of the AA had provided INEC with a list of candidates, which the courts had also directed INEC to accept and publish.
Mr. Udeze is still listed on the INEC website as the national chairman of AA despite the rulings of the Federal High Court and the Court of Appeal, both of which are located in Abuja.
We met all INEC electoral standards and procedures in accordance with the Nigerian Constitution with the commission, yet he (Mr. Yakubu) seems hell-bent on not recognizing Mr. Okanigbuan, Mr. Omo-Aje had stated in January. We complied with all INEC electoral procedures set down by the Nigerian Constitution with the commission, but Mr. Yakubu is adamant that Action Alliance not be allowed to run in the upcoming general elections in 2023.
Reasons behind the petition
The AA provided Mr. Okanigbuan to INEC as its candidate to run in the presidential election that was held on February 25, but the AA claims INEC “unlawfully excluded him from the poll.”
The party said that because the electoral commission disqualified its “genuine” candidate from the race, the entire process was unlawful because it did not adhere to the Electoral Act of 2022’s requirements.
The petition claimed that “the 1st respondent (INEC)… willfully refused to execute the order of the court that it should upload the names as instructed by the court.”
The party went on to claim that, despite Mr. Okanigbuan having been legitimately chosen to represent him in the presidential election, INEC had “illegally excluded him from the said election and instead imposed a certain Hamza Al-Mustapha” as its candidate, even though the latter is not a party member.
According to AA, only political parties, not INEC, are “authorized to nominate, sponsor, and canvass for votes for candidates at any election,” citing articles of the Nigerian constitution.
The first petitioner claimed that INEC had committed a “wrong” by barring Mr. Okanigbuan from the presidential election, adding that this resulted in the “many supporters who could not vote because their favorite candidate was not on the ballot” being denied the right to vote.
Dauda Usman, the attorney for the petitioners, pleaded with the court to annul Mr. Tinubu’s election and direct INEC to hold a new presidential election.