Presidential Poll: Four men, woman who’ll decide Tinubu, Atiku, Obi’s fate today

THE die is cast and the stage is set. After five months of legal fisticuffs, the Presidential Election Petition Court (Tribunal) will decide the fate of President Bola Tinubu, former Vice President Atiku Abubakar, and former Anambra State Governor, Mr. Peter Obi, today.

The trio were the leading presidential candidates in the February 25, 2023 presidential poll. While Tinubu, who was declared winner by the Independent National Commission, INEC ran on the platform of the All Progressives Congress, APC; Atiku contested on the banner of the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP; and Obi flew the flag of the Labour Party, LP.

Atiku, Obi, PDP and LP separately want the court to nullify Tinubu’s election, award the victory to Atiku or Atiku, and disqualify Tinubu in the event of ordering a re-run
There is also a third petition lodged against President Tinubu by the Allied Peoples Movement, APM.

Specifically, APM contended that the withdrawal of Mr. Masari, who was initially nominated as the Vice-Presidential candidate of the APC, invalidated Tinubu’s candidacy in view of Section 131(c) and 142 of the 1999 Constitution, as amended.

Countering the petitioners, Tinubu, APC, and INEC urged the court to dismiss the petitions of the petitioners and affirm Tinubu’s election.

7 options before the court

As it is, there are seven options before the court, namely:

•Affirm Tinubu’s election on the ground that infractions observed during the polls were not enough to invalidate the outcome
•Disqualify Tinubu, nullify his election and declare Atiku as winner
•Annul Tinubu’s election and declare Obi as winner
•Cancel the elections and order a fresh poll among the 18 candidates
•Cancel the elections and order a re-run between the best two
•Order a re-run between Tinubu and Atiku
•Order a re-run between Atiku and Obi
Five justices who’ll decide Tinubu’s, Atiku’s, Obi’s fate

The four men and one woman, who will take one of the above options are
Justice Haruna Tsammani, Chief Registrar of the Court of Appeal and head of the panel; Justice Stephen Adah, Court of Appeal (Asaba division); Justice Monsurat Bolaji-Yusuf, Court of Appeal (Asaba Division); Justice Moses Ugo, Kano division; and Justice Abba Mohammed, Ibadan Court of Appeal.

Justice Tsammani

Born on November 23, 1959, Justice Tsammani hails from Tafawa Balewa LGA of Bauchi State. He obtained his LL.B degree from Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria in 1982, attended the Nigerian Law School, Lagos for his BL in 1983, and started as a High Court judge in Bauchi State on September 17, 1998.

Tsammmani, who was later elevated to the Court of Appeal on July 16, 2010, is the longest-serving Justice of the Court of Appeal among the five members of the panel. He has spent half of his 24 years as a judge on the Court of Appeal bench.

He delivered one of the judgments of the Court of Appeal in Abuja that affirmed the second term election of Governor Yahaya Bello of Kogi State.

He also delivered the judgment of the Court of Appeal in Abuja that issued the order restraining Rivers and Lagos state governments from taking action on their bids to collect Value Added Tax (VAT).

Justice Tsammani prepared the lead judgment that dismissed Abiola Ajimobi’s petition challenging the judgment of the 2019 Election Petition Tribunal, which had on November 19, 2019, upheld PDP’s Kola Balogun as the winner of the senatorial election for Oyo South for lacking in merit. He ruled that a person who was not a member of a political party has no right to challenge the outcome of its primary election.

In February 2022, Tsammani gave the lead judgment of the court that handed the control of APC in Kano State back to the immediate past governor, Abdullahi Ganduje,.

In October 2021, he led the three-member panel of the court that dismissed the suit by the suspended National Chairman of the PDP, Uche Secondus, to stop the party from holding its national convention. Justice Tsammani also led the panel of the court that gave the October 2022 judgment suspending the release of the leader of the Indigenous People of Biafra, IPOB, Mazi Nnamdi Kanu, from custody after the charges against the secessionist were dismissed in an earlier judgment of the court.

Justice Adah

Born on June 13, 1957, Justice Stephen Adah, who hails from Dekina Local Government Area of Kogi State, is the presiding Justice of the Asaba Division of the Court of Appeal.

He obtained his LL.B degree from Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria, in 1981 and attended the Nigerian Law School, Lagos, for his BL in 1982.

He was appointed a judge of the Federal High Court on November 12, 1998, and later elevated to the Court of Appeal on November 5, 2012. He was a member of the three-man panel that granted Obi and Atiku’s motions to serve Tinubu their petitions by substituted means.

One of his landmark decisions was in the appeal filed by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, 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.

He led the panel that affirmed Ifeanyi Ubah as a Senator after his sack over alleged certificate forgery. He also led the panel that affirmed Valentine Ozigbo as the PDP governorship candidate for the Anambra State Governorship election.

Justice Bolaji-Yusuf

Born on August 7, 1959 , Justice Bolaji-Yusuf, who hails from Oyo West LGA of Oyo State is the only female member of the five-man panel of the court. She obtained her LL.B degree from the Obafemi Awolowo University, Ile-Ife in 1983. She attended the Nigerian Law School the following year for her BL certificate.

She was appointed a Judge of the High Court of Oyo State on January 30, 1997, and later elevated to the Court of Appeal on March 24, 2014.

In the controversial impeachment of former Governor of Oyo State, Senator Rashidi Ladoja, Justice Bolaji-Yusuf issued an order that invalidated the steps taken by the then-acting Chief Judge of Oyo, Justice Afolabi Adeniran, which led to the illegal removal of Ladoja.
Her verdict was the first major blow to the entire impeachment process that the Supreme Court later nullified and reinstated Ladoja as Oyo governor on November 11, 2006.

She also delivered the lead judgment of the three-man panel of the Benin Division of the Court of Appeal that affirmed the first-term election of Edo State Governor, Mr. Godwin Obaseki in June 2017. She was on the panel that affirmed that candidates of the Obaseki-faction were the authentic candidates to participate in the 2023 elections.

Justice Ugo

At 57, Justice Boloukuoromo Ugo, who hails from Kolokuma/Opokua Local Government Area of Bayelsa State, is the youngest member of the panel. He obtained his LL.B degree from the University of Calabar in 1989, and proceeded to the Nigerian Law School in Lagos the following year, for his BL certificate. He was appointed a Judge of the High Court of Bayelsa State on March 21, 2006, and later elevated to the Court of Appeal on March 24, 2011

Justice Mohammed

Born on February 19, 1961, Justice Abba Mohammed hails from Kano State. He
obtained his LL.B degree from the Institute of Administration, Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria in 1984, and proceeded to the Nigerian Law School in Lagos for his BL Certificate in 1985.

He was appointed a judge of the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) High Court in 2010.

After serving for about 10 years, he was promoted to the Court of Appeal on June 28, 2021. He was the Chairman of the Nasarawa State Governorship Election Tribunal in 2019.

The PDP governorship candidate in the 2019 general election, David Ombugadu had sued INEC and Governor Abdullahi Sule of the APC. Justice Mohammed dismissed the petition for lacking in merit, and ruled that the petitioner’s allegation of over-voting and electoral violence could not be substantiated.


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