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EU, ECOWAS reports on Nigerian elections have no judicial value – Senior judge

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Although the European Union (EU) and ECOWAS delegations are accredited to observe Nigeria’s elections, their reports on the elections are ‘valueless’ and ‘inadmissible’ in Nigerian courts, a senior judge ruled on Wednesday.

Moses Ugo, a judge of Nigeria’s second highest court, the Court of Appeal, said this while reading his ruling as a member of the Presidential Election Petition Court.

PREMIUM TIMES reported how the five-member panel on the PEPC dismissed the appeals filed by three opposition parties against the election of President Bola Tinubu.

While declaring support for his fellow judges on the panel, Mr Ugo spoke on why the EU and ECOWAS reports which criticised parts of the 2023 presidential election were inadmissible in court.

“The EUEOM report on the 2023 presidential elections… and I dare to add even the ECOWAS report of the same elections tendered by second and third respondents is completely valueless and inadmissible…,” he said.

The EU-EOM, in its final report on the 2023 presidential poll, said though the elections showed the commitment of Nigerians to democracy, it also exposed enduring systemic weaknesses and therefore signalled a need for further legal and operational reforms to enhance transparency, inclusiveness, and accountability.

In his ruling, Mr Ugo said the EU report tendered by both the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) presidential candidate, Atiku Abubakar, and the Labour Party (LP) presidential candidate, Peter Obi, was inadmissible since the makers of the report did not present themselves in court to face cross-examination to authenticate their opinions.

“The impression given by both petitioners is that the said report is like the gospel truth of what happened in the election and so must be accepted by this court and the conduct of the presidential election declared corrupt or at the very least declared below par regardless of whether or not the authors of the said report presented themselves in court to defend their opinions,” the judge ruled.

PREMIUM TIMES reported how all five members of the Presidential Election Petition Court in Abuja, on Wednesday, unanimously affirmed Bola Tinubu as the validly elected President of Nigeria, a judicial resolution of the credibility questions that have hovered around his election for over six months.

In its over-12-hour-long judgement, the panel of judges led by Haruna Tsammani dismissed all three petitions challenging Mr Tinubu’s election in his lead judgement.

The other members of the panel – Stephen Adah, Misitura Bolaji-Yusuf (the only female on the bench), Moses Ugo, and Abbah Mohammed – took their turns to adopt the reasoning and conclusion of the lead judgement.

The petitioners were Atiku Abubakar of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), who was declared as the first runner-up in the election; Peter Obi of the Labour Party, the second runner-up, and the All Peoples Movement (APM).

The panel unanimously stressed the total lack of credible evidence adduced by the petitioners to support their cases and described some of the legal arguments of Atiku and Mr Obi as “fallacious and ridiculous”.

“From the foregoing, therefore, it is very clear and certain that the petitioners have failed to prove that the 2023 presidential election and the return of the 2nd respondent (Mr Tinubu) was invalidated by reason of corrupt practices or non-compliance with the Electoral Act 2022,” Mr Tsammani declared.

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