•The court dismisses APM’s case and reserves decision on Obi, LP’s appeal.
•Atiku maintains that the ex-VP’s decision was erroneous, citing information from CSU, claims Tinubu
Justice John Okoro, the chairman of the Supreme Court panel hearing appeals against President Bola Tinubu’s election, stated on Monday that Atiku Abubakar, the presidential candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party in February, would have to establish beyond a reasonable doubt the accusations of certificate forgery made against the former governor of Lagos State.
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During the hearing of Atiku and Peter Obi’s election petition appeals, both from the Labour Party, Okoro delivered the reprimand.
After Atiku’s lead attorney, Chris Uche, SAN, submitted a request asking the court to accept the new material the petitioners had produced, he made this statement.
Atiku had begged an Illinois Chicago district court to order Chicago State University to divulge the President’s academic records in an attempt to overturn Tinubu’s election and disprove the claim that he was unfit to run for president.
The CSU Bachelor of Science in Business Administration degree, which Tinubu submitted to the Independent National Electoral Commission in 1979, was allegedly falsified, according to the former vice president.
In addition to the diploma that CSU given to Tinubu in 1979, he also wanted copies of all other diplomas that were awarded to other students that were comparable to his in 1979 and that had the same font, seal, signatures, and content.
While acknowledging that only the certificate should be made public and not other confidential documents, Tinubu’s attorneys rejected Atiku’s plea on the grounds of privacy concerns.
However, in support of Atiku’s Supreme Court appeal of his election petition, the US court ordered the publication of the former governor of Lagos State’s academic records.
In her Monday speech to the supreme court, Uche emphasized that Tinubu’s academic records were a serious problem and urged the court to accept them as new evidence.
“The matter concerning Tinubu’s certificate is a significant, serious, and constitutional one, which the Supreme Court should acknowledge,” stated the senior attorney. I implore the court to accept the new information that Atiku has provided, which includes President Tinubu’s CSU academic records.
“After reviewing Tinubu’s documents, the court ought to render a decision free from procedural snags. The court should look at it and avoid getting bogged down in details because it is a policy court.
Additionally, Atiku’s primary attorney stated that the court shouldn’t be bound by the 180-day rule.
Despite characterizing the issue as criminal in nature, Justice Okoro insisted that it be proven beyond a reasonable doubt.
Two contradictory letters from Chicago State University caught his attention.
He said that one of the letters confirmed the President’s certificate’s authenticity while the other questioned it.
It must be shown beyond a reasonable doubt because this is a criminal matter, he stated. There are two contradicting letters from CSU: one that supports the president’s certificate while the other casts doubt on it.
Justice Emmanuel Agim, another panelist, noted that Atiku’s lawyer’s chambers, not the courtroom, was where the deposition Atiku was attempting to submit as evidence was conducted.
“I anticipated a letter from the college denying the authenticity of the disputed documents. Does the legal right to administer oaths vest in stenographers? We are addressing a topic that has national significance, he stated.
There is no question, Uche asserted, about the fact that Tinubu’s US attorneys were present during the depositions.
Atiku shouldn’t be permitted to bring in documents that weren’t submitted to the tribunal, according to All Progressives Congress attorney Akin Olujinmi, SAN, who testified in court.
He declared, “A document must be submitted to the trial court before being smuggled into the Supreme Court. The appeal is unjustified and poorly thought out. It ought to be rejected out of hand.
Wole Olanipekun, SAN, the President’s attorney, likewise urged the court not to accept the new documents in response to Uche’s claims, noting that INEC was not a party to them.
The USA does not allow the depositions to be admitted. It’s comparable to depositions, which happen here in Nigeria. INEC was not a party to the deposition, which took place outside of court. Before the deposition may be allowed as evidence in court, it needs to be adopted by the person who made the deposition, he reasoned.
The 180-day period allotted for the resolution of electoral petition cases, he added, “is like a rock of Gibraltar; it cannot be moved.”
Abubakar Mahmoud, the attorney for INEC, sought the court to read section 285 of the constitution and urged the court to reject the appeal.
However, the court, which also included Adamu Jauro, Abubakar Tijjani, Mohammed Garba, Ibrahim Saulawa, and Uwani Aji as panel members, reserved judgment in the case.
In addition, the court deferred ruling in the Labour Party’s presidential candidate Peter Obi’s appeal against the tribunal’s ruling upholding Tinubu’s election.
Through their legal representatives, Obi and the LP pleaded with the court to sustain the appeal and overturn the ruling of the Presidential Election Petition Court that had denied their petition, under the direction of Dr. Livy Uzoukwu, SAN.
The APC, Tinubu, and INEC had requested for the appeal to be dismissed for lack of merit.
The panel promised to inform each party of the verdict date.
The election’s third-place finisher, Obi, argued in his 51 grounds of appeal that the PEPC panel’s decision to deny his petition was based on a legal error.
He claimed that the panel misapplied its judgment in assessing the information he presented to it and committed a serious injustice when it determined that he had neglected to name the polling places in which irregularities had taken place during the election.
Further criticism of the PEPC’s decision to reject Obi and the LP’s petition came from the fact that they failed to provide specific numbers for the allegedly manipulated or suppressed votes or scores in favor of President Tinubu and the APC.
Panel of seven men
After hearing the arguments made by the parties, the seven-member panel chaired by Okoro declared that they will be notified of the verdict date.
A date to be announced to the parties is when the appeal is set aside for judgment, according to the panel headed by Okoro.
The Allied Peoples Movement filed an appeal to overturn the President’s election, but the Supreme Court rejected it.
Section 33 of the Electoral Act required that the placeholder selected by President Ibrahim Masari had to be replaced within 14 days, but the party had not done so.
Vice President Kashim Shettima was unlawfully nominated, according to Chukwuma-Machukwu Ume, the party’s principal attorney, who maintained that their appeal was not predicated on the double nomination that the lower court had decided.
But Okoro questioned him on whether the APM stood to benefit from the situation.
What will you get out of this appeal, he asked? Other appeals are requesting more significant things. All that is gained is giving us tasks to complete. We are not being asked to install your nominee as president.
The APM attorney requested to have his appeal withdrawn.
No objections were raised by the APC, INEC, Ibrahim Massari, or Tinubu’s attorneys.
Okoro declared, “The appeal is hereby struck out having been withdrawn.”