Tinubu, Atiku and Obi
The Supreme Court will today deliver judgment in the two surviving appeals filed by former vice president Atiku Abubakar of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and his Labour Party(LP) counterpart, Mr. Peter Obi against the victory of President Bola Tinubu.
This is coming barely 72 hours after the apex court took arguments for and against the appeals from counsel to the parties, reports Daily Sun.
The court communicated the judgment date to all the parties on Wednesday, through a notice that was signed by one of its registrars.
By the extant law, the Supreme Court has 60 days within which to hear the appeals and give its final judgment.
The appellants are praying the apex court set aside the September 6 judgment of the Presidential Election Petition Court (PEPC), which dismissed their allegation that the election was rigged in favour of the ruling party.
Aside challenging President Tinubu’s eligibility to participate in the contest, both Atiku, who came second, and Obi who came third, maintained that he (Tinubu) did not secure the majority of valid votes that were cast during the election to be declared the winner.
While Atiku represented by Chief Chris Uche urged the court to allow their separate appeals and nullify Tinubu’s election, all the respondents urged the court to reject the appeal and uphold the judgment of the presidential election tribunal which affirmed the declaration of Tinubu as President.
Atiku built his case on the allegations that the president forged the Chicago State University (CSU) certificate he submitted to INEC for the 25 February election.
He argued that the issue of forgery of a certificate of academic qualification went to the root of Mr. Tinubu’s qualification to contest the presidential election.
Although Atiku had made legal efforts to obtained Tinubu’s academic records from the CSU, he was unsuccessful until after the PEPC delivered its judgment.
During proceedings, Atiku’s lead counsel sought to tender the academic records released by the university along with the deposition of the its registrar.
In the deposition, the university clearly affirmed that Mr. Tinubu graduated from the university, but did not deny or authenticate if the copy of the certificate Mr. Tinubu submitted to INEC was made by the university.
“We are praying for an order of this honourable court seeking leave to present fresh evidence on appeal based on the depositions on oath from Chicago State University concerning the 2nd respondent (Mr. Tinubu),” Mr Uche submitted.
He told the court that Tinubu’s certificate issue is a “weighty, grave and constitutional” matter, which it must decide.
According to the senior lawyer, the Supreme Court had a duty to critically look at Mr Tinubu’s records and reach a decision devoid of technicality.
Meanwhile, in his submission on the matter, lead counsel to the President, Chief Wole Olanipekun (SAN), urged the Supreme Court to dismiss Atiku’s “very unusual application” to tender fresh evidence against Mr Tinubu.
He contended that the fresh evidence was inadmissible on the ground that “the CSU depositions are dormant until the deponent comes to court and testify.”
He pointed out that INEC ought to have been a party at the deposition proceedings in the US.
In his submission concerning the statutory timeframe for hearing and determination of election petitions, Mr Olanipekun said “the question of 180 days is clear.
“It is sacrosanct. It cannot be shifted. Therefore, Atiku cannot seek to tender fresh evidence at the Supreme Court. This is an application in wonderland. It has no merit. We urge the court to dismiss. The courts are bound by the law, and the law is to be interpreted as it is,” he said.
On his part, INEC lawyer, Abubakar Mahmoud, asked the court to dismiss Atiku’s application seeking to tender Mr Tinubu’s academic records.
APC lawyer, Akin Olujinmi, also said Atiku’s application lacked merit. It is misconceived and we urge the court to dismiss it. You cannot smuggle in a document into the Supreme Court without first tendering same at the trial court.”
Also, Obi’s lead lawyer, Livy Uzoukwu, urged the court to allow his client’s appeal and set aside the September 6 judgment which affirmed Mr Tinubu’s election.
But Tinubu’s counsel also argued that Mr Obi’s appeal lacked merit and should be dismissed accordingly.
In a similar position, counsel to APC asked the court to uphold the judgment of the (PEPC) affirming Mr. Tinubu’s election.
Obi, who came third in the election, had in his 51 grounds of appeal, maintained that the PEPC panel erred in law and thereby reached a wrong conclusion when it dismissed his petition.
He alleged that the panel wrongly evaluated the proof of evidence he adduced before it and occasioned a grave miscarriage of justice when it held that he did not specify polling units where irregularities occurred during the election.
Obi and the LP further faulted the PEPC for dismissing their case on the premise that they did not specify the figures of votes or scores that were allegedly suppressed or inflated in favour of President Tinubu and the APC.
Meanwhile, LP said it had presented fresh facts and evidence which gave it hope that the apex court would grant its prayers.
Its National Legal Adviser, Kehinde Edun, at a news conference in Abuja, said there was no legal restriction on the parties’ ability to provide new evidence in an appeal following a tribunal ruling.
He said the party envisaged massive jubilation by Nigerians today as the LP achieves victory.
“We are expecting to win, nothing else but victory for us, because that is what justice demands, that is what Nigerians want.
“We will not lose hope, we have presented our cases before the court, and even at the court of appeal, we have presented fresh facts and fresh evidence and all these talks that no fresh evidence can be presented at appeal. Which law says that you cannot present fresh evidence on appeal?
“If something has happened and you want justice, in as much as there is still time, you can put everything you want before the court. So, we have confidence and and we expect victory for the Labour Party and for Nigerians. We know there will be jubilation everywhere in Nigeria,” he stated.