Today, it seemed as if a sledgehammer had hit the APC camp as they might have been caught napping by the PDP over a case filed at the Supreme Court which came up for hearing today.
The Supreme Court Justices would have given judgment today perhaps but they moved the judgement to Friday, May 26th.
And that day is now probably the most important day in Nigeria since the February 25th Presidential election this year.
Millions of Nigerians also were not aware of the case which came up for judgement at the Supreme Court today. The shenanigans at the Presidential Election Tribunal in the past few days were enough distractions to even imagine that a case of this magnitude was waiting at the Supreme Court.
What is the judgment to be given by the Justices of the Supreme Court , in a nutshell? It is to determine if the APC Presidential running mate, Alhaji Shettima violated Section 35 of the Electoral Act 2022 by having a double nomination, thereby voiding the joint presidential ticket.
There’s been precedence set by the Supreme Court in a similar case like this with Uche Nwosu of Imo State. The Supreme Court ruled against Nwosu and disqualified him. That precedent is what many legal experts are looking at to see if the Justices will rule against Shettima and the APC this Friday.
I have spoken to a few brilliant lawyers and their positions are that Shettima has no hope of dodging this case, with all the facts of the case on ground. A couple more lawyers I asked for a balanced opinion are undecided. They feel it can go either way, since the confidence in the Supreme Court in giving the right and expected legal judgments in the political space has been waning for a couple of years now.
If the Supreme Court rules on Friday that Shettima violated the Electoral Law, it would mean outright disqualification of him and Bola Ahmed Tinubu, since it’s a joint ticket!
If that happens on Friday, it would mean a couple of things might happen, depending on the further judgement given. It might mean that the person whom INEC declared as the second position holder in the Presidential Election would be declared the President-Elect. That would be Atiku Abubakar. If that is the case, then Atiku will likely be sworn in as the President.
However, if the Supreme Court disqualifies both Tinubu and Shettima without making any pronouncement on who should be sworn in, there would likely be an extension for a number of days, of the Buhari presidency. Buhari might continue for not more than six months and if he doesn’t wish to continue in office beyond May 29th, perhaps Vice-President Osinbajo might hold forth for a few more months if he too wishes, until another election holds. These are my own layman’s opinions on what might be the scenario and not cast in stone under any legal framework. So, the reader should take this part about an extension of the Buhari/Osinbajo tenure as hypothetical on my part.
There is another scenario too. If Atiku is declared as the winner and sworn in, the case at the Presidential Election Tribunal asking for the judicial interpretation of the constitution as it concerns the 25% in the FCT will definitely come up.
Now, here’s what I think of that section of the constitution. I believe that for a winner to be declared in any Presidential Election, that person has to win 25% in the FCT. I think it’s a no-brainer. Forget what the APC lawyers are trying to argue. My own understanding tells me that the ‘AND’ in that section of the constitution is not in anyway ambiguous but a conjunctive requirement.
So, if Atiku is declared the winner if the judgement on Friday dismisses BAT and Shettima, it is rather likely that he will still step down when the Tribunal gives a judgment on that 25% in the FCT matter. If that happens, Atiku and Obi will slug it out in a run off election, going by the Electoral law, because BAT and Shettima would have been disqualified from running in that run-off.