The recent verdict handed down by the Presidential Election Petitions Court (PEPC) on Wednesday night has left an enduring impact, one that is destined to reverberate within Nigeria’s legal landscape, particularly concerning electoral matters.
The PEPC, led by Chairman Justice Haruna Tsammani and comprised of five justices, devoted approximately three months to diligently assess and deliberate upon the contested 2023 presidential election, which saw Asiwaju Bola Tinubu emerge as the victor under the banner of the All Progressives Congress (APC).
Finally, the momentous judgment day arrived on Wednesday, September 6, 2023. The Court systematically delivered its rulings on various petitions lodged by dissatisfied political parties and their respective candidates in the 2023 presidential election, a list that included Atiku Abubakar of the People’s Democratic Party (PDP), Peter Obi of the Labour Party (LP), and the Allied Peoples Movement (APM).
Commencing at approximately 9:30 a.m. on that Wednesday, each panel justice took turns to elucidate the Court’s rulings on the issues the petitioners and respondents raised. Following a marathon session lasting about 12 hours, the Court ultimately upheld President Tinubu’s election and dismissed all allegations against him and his party.
The 2023 Election Judgment in Nigeria Holds the Record for Being the Lengthiest”
In response to the protracted duration of the judgment, distinguished author and journalist Richard Akinola referred to it as the “Longest Judgement In Nigeria.” Akinola provided a historical context by citing previous cases with similarly lengthy judgments in a post shared on his Facebook page the night before the Tribunal concluded its proceedings.
He stated, “Today’s Presidential election tribunal judgment is the longest in the history of Nigeria. It commenced at around 9:25 a.m. and was still ongoing as of my post at 9:35 p.m.” Also Read: https://legalattorneyblog.com/2023/09/22/pept-ruling-apc-leader-extends-congratulations-to-tinubu-encourages-atiku-and-obi-to-embrace-patriotism/
Akinola went on to recount prior instances of lengthy judgments, such as the treasonable felony judgment of Chief Obafemi Awolowo and others on September 11, 1962, presided over by Justice George Sodeinde Sowemimo of the Lagos High Court. That judgment spanned from 9:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m., lasting eight hours.
The author then pointed out that the record was surpassed on June 16, 2021, when a Lagos High Court sentenced former Bank PHB Managing Director Francis Atuche to six years in prison for embezzling N25.7 billion belonging to the bank. Justice Lateef Okunnu delivered a 12-hour judgment, which began at 9:12 a.m. and concluded at 9:21 p.m.
Akinola concluded by noting that its appellate nature set the recent judgment apart from its predecessors, involving five justices and addressing three distinct cases simultaneously.
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