Appeal court grants Peter Obi’s request to serve petition on Tinubu

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The Court of Appeal in Abuja, on Friday, granted permission to Labour Party’s presidential candidate, Peter Obi, to serve his petition challenging the February 25, 2023, Presidential election.

Obi is challenging the victory of Bola Tinubu, the presidential candidate of the All Progressives Congress (APC).

The chairman of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), Mahmood Yakubu, on 1 March, declared Tinubu Nigeria’s president-elect after he reportedly polled 8.8 million votes.

But Obi who was announced third in the presidential contest, filed a petition at the Presidential Election Petition Tribunal in Abuja, seeking to upturn Tinubu’s victory.

Obi and the Labour Party jointly filed a complaint before the court as co-petitioners on 20 March.

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The petitioner’s lawyer, Ikechukwu Ezechukwu, a Senior Advocate of Nigeria (SAN) in an ex-parte application, asked the appellate court to grant Obi and the Labour Party leave to serve the petition on Tinubu and the Vice President-elect, Kashim Shettima, through substituted means.

Ezechukwu argued that it has been necessary to serve the court filings through “substituted means” on Messrs Tinubu and Shettima owing to heightened security protection around the president-elect and vice president-elect.

The lawyer urged the court to permit Obi to serve the court documents on Messrs Tinubu and Shettima through the office of the legal adviser of the APC.

Ruling on the application on Friday, a three-member panel of the Court of Appeal, Abuja, led by Haruna Tsammani, granted Obi’s request.

The court ordered that the petition be served on Messrs Tinubu and Shettima “by delivering…or pasting the petition No: CA/PEPC/03/2023 and all other processes filed in the petition at either the office of the National Legal Adviser of the” APC or…with any other officer of the” APC “at its National Secretariat at No.40 Blantyre Street, Off Ademola Adetokunbo Crescent, Wuse 2, Federal Capital Territory, Abuja.”

In the ex-parte application, Obi noted that the bailiff of the Court of Appeal made “unsuccessful attempts to serve the petition personally on” Messrs Tinubu and Shettima.

“As a result of the declaration and return of” of Messr Tinubu and Shettima “as the president-elect and vice president-elect, respectively, the security attached to and around them has substantially changed; with the result that there is a heavy restriction of access to them,” Mr Obi told the court.

Obi noted that Tinubu’s relocation to the Defence Guest House at the Maitama area of Abuja following his declaration as the president-elect has made access to him difficult.

He said the purpose of the service of the court filings, “whether personal or by substituted means, is to bring the pendency of any proceeding to the knowledge of the party on whom the process is meant to be served personally.”

The application, Obi’s lawyer, said was based on provisions of the Nigerian constitution, the Electoral Act, 2022 and the Court of Appeal Act.

The ex-parte request was filed at the Court on 23 March.

Obi in his petition asked the court to either declare him Nigeria’s president or order a fresh election, in which Tinubu would be excluded from participating.

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