The Human Rights Writers Association of Nigeria (HURIWA) has strongly criticized the recent ruling by the Presidential Election Petition Tribunal (PEPT), which upheld President Bola Ahmed Tinubu’s victory in the February 25 presidential election. HURIWA condemns this decision, labeling it a miscarriage of justice and raising concerns about the tribunal’s competence and impartiality.
The PEPT, in a significant ruling that reevaluated previous decisions of the Supreme Court, dismissed all petitions filed by the People’s Democratic Party (PDP), the Labour Party, and APM, questioning Tinubu’s victory under the All Progressives Congress (APC).
HURIWA expressed dismay that the tribunal ventured beyond established legal norms, particularly in its interpretation of Section 134(1)(b) of the 1999 Constitution. This constitutional provision imposes a stringent requirement on presidential candidates, necessitating not only a majority of votes but also at least one-quarter (25%) of all votes cast in all states of the federation and the Federal Capital Territory (FCT).
The organization highlighted the Supreme Court’s interpretation of the Constitution, which underscores the need for precision and strict adherence to legal principles. HURIWA criticized the PEPT for deviating from this guidance, creating legal confusion and potentially compromising the integrity of the judicial system.
Furthermore, HURIWA criticized the tribunal for heavily relying on technicalities and failing to provide substantial justice. The organization noted that the tribunal blamed the petitioners for insufficient evidence of electoral misconduct, even though INEC had failed to provide essential documents as ordered by the tribunal.
HURIWA expressed serious concerns about alleged leaks of the verdict to government agencies, including the President, the Department of State Services (DSS), and the Nigerian Army, which led to unwarranted warnings of potential violent protests. These allegations raised doubts about the fairness and impartiality of the tribunal’s proceedings.
HURIWA called on relevant authorities to conduct a thorough and impartial investigation into these allegations and the conduct of the tribunal. The organization emphasized the importance of upholding justice and preserving the sanctity of legal processes.
Furthermore, HURIWA urged all Nigerians to remain vigilant and actively engaged in matters of national significance, particularly those affecting the democratic process. The organization reaffirmed its commitment to promoting and protecting human rights and the rule of law, pledging continued advocacy for justice and accountability in Nigeria.