The final verdict of the Presidential Election Petitions Court (PEPC) delivered on Wednesday night has come and gone, but its impact will continue to be felt for as long as possible.
The reasons are not farfetched – it will further shape Nigeria’s legal jurisprudence, particularly on electoral matters.
The PEPC had a five-member panel of Justices under the chairmanship of Justice Haruna Tsammani. It sat, listened to all parties, and deliberated for about three months since after the conduct of the disputed 2023 presidential election won by Asiwaju Bola Tinubu of the All Progressives Congress (APC).
Eventually, the judgement day came on Wednesday, September 6, 2023. The court delivered judgements one after the other on different petitions filed by aggrieved political parties and their candidates in the 2023 presidential election.
LEADERSHIP reports that Atiku Abubakar of the People’s Democratic Party (PDP); Peter Obi of Labour Party (LP) and Allied Peoples Movement (APM) had filed petitions to challenge Tinubu’s victory at the February 25, 2023.
Starting at about 9.30am on Wednesday, different Justices of the panel took turns to deliver the Court’s verdicts on issues raised by the petitioners and even the respondents.
After about 12 hours, the court eventually affirmed the election of President Tinubu and dismissed all allegations against him and his party.
Reacting to the long duration of the judgement, a well-known author and Journalist, Richard Akinola, described it as the ‘Longest Judgement In Nigeria’.
Taking to his Facebook page on Friday night shortly before Tribunal completed its task, Akinola gave chronological examples of previous cases with such lengthy hours of judgement.
He wrote: “Today’s Presidential election tribunal judgment is the longest in the history of Nigeria. It started at about 9.25am and it’s still on as at the time of this post at 9.35 pm.
“The first record was that of the treasonable felony judgment of Chief Obafemi Awolowo and others on September 11, 1962 by Justice George Sodeinde Sowemimo of Lagos High court. It lasted from 9.30am to 5.30pm (eight hours).
“The record was broken on June 16, 2021 when a Lagos High court sentenced a former Managing Director of Bank PHB, Francis Atuche, to six years imprisonment for stealing N25.7billion belonging to the bank.
It was a 12-hour judgment by Justice Lateefat Okunnu which began at 9.12am and ended at 9.21pm.
“However, the only difference in respect of today’s judgment and the previous ones is that this is an appellate judgment involving five justices in respect of three different cases.”