Barristers & Solicitors
Election petition: APC, Tinubu to reply Atiku, Obi, others within 21 days after service
Bola Tinubu

The respondents in the four petitions filed against the February 25 presidential election are required to file their replies within 21 days from the date of the service of any of the petitions on them.

As at the expiration of the time limit for the filing of petitions on March 22, four petitions had been lodged at the secretariat of the Presidential Election Petitions Court (PEPC) in Abuja. 

The petitions were filed by the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and its candidate, Atiku Abubakar; Labour Party (LP) and its candidate, Peter Obi; the Action Alliance (AA) and the Allied Peoples Movement (APM).

Section 285(5) of the Constitution provides that an election petition shall be filed within 21 days from the date of declaration of the results and that the petition shall be filed at the registry of the appropriate tribunal or court.

According to Paragraph 14 of the First Schedule to the Electoral Act 2022, the petitioner can amend his petition any time before the expiration of 21 days, from the date of the declaration of results.

After the filing of a petition, the Secretary or Registrar of the PEPC is required, under Paragraph 7(2) First Schedule to the Electoral Act 2022, to issue the respondent with a notice of petition, requiring the respondent to enter appearance within a period of not less than five days, but not more than seven days, from the receipt of the notice.

The respondent, under Paragraph 12 First Schedule to the Electoral Act 2022, has 21 days to reply to the petition of the petitioner.

The reply, the law stipulates, shall set out facts and figures the respondent seeks to rely on in his reply.  

The respondent shall state his objection to the hearing of the petition in his reply, and the objection shall be heard with the substantive suit.

Paragraph 12 states: “The respondent shall, within 21 days of service of the petition on him, file in the registry his reply, specifying in it which of the facts alleged in the election petition he admits and which he denies, and setting out the facts on which he relies in opposition to the election petition.

“Where the respondent in an election petition is complaining of an undue return and claiming the seat or office for a petitioner intend to prove that the claim is incorrect or false, the respondent, in his reply, shall set out the facts and figures clearly and distinctly disproving the claim of the petitioner.”

Paragraph 16 First Schedule to the Electoral Act 2022 provides that where the respondent raises new issues in his reply, the petitioner can file a petitioner’s reply at the registry of the tribunal or Court of Appeal within five days from the receipt of the respondent’s reply.

Section 285(6) of the Constitution states that an election tribunal shall deliver its judgment in writing within 180 days from the date of filing the petition. 

An appeal from an election tribunal or Court of Appeal (in the case of the presidential election) shall be delivered within 60 days from the date of delivery of the judgment by the tribunal.