Anxiety as S’Court sits on Atiku, Obi, APM’s appeals

Final legal fireworks kick-start today at the Supreme Court in the multiple appeals filed by the candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Alhaji Atiku Abubakar, his counterpart in the Labour Party (LP). Mr. Peter Obi and the Allied Peoples Movement (APM) seeking to nullify President Bola Tinubu’s election victory.

The appellants in their separate appeals are praying the apex court to set aside the judgment of the Presidential Election Petition Court (PEPC), which affirmed Tinubu of the ruling All Progressives Congress, APC, as the valid winner of the presidential election that held on February 25.

While Atiku filed 35 grounds of appeal through his legal team headed by Chief Chris Uche against Tinubu’s victory, Obi, through his own team of lawyers led by Dr. Livy Uzoukwu, filed 51 grounds of appeal before the Supreme Court.

On its part, the APM led by its counsel, Chukwuma-Machukwu filed 10 grounds of appeal that has been distilled into three fundamental issues in asking the apex court to void the declaration and return of Tinubu and Kashim Shettima as President and vice president respectively.

In all of these, President Tinubu, his All Progressives Congress(APC) and the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) have asked the Supreme Court to dismiss the appeals for lacking in merit.

President Tinubu further urged the court to reject an application that Atiku filed for permission to tender a copy of his certificate that was released by the Chicago State University in the USA.

As an addendum to his appeal, Atiku went further to file a motion to bring in fresh evidence against Tinubu relating to his academic records that were released to him by a United State Court.

Both Atiku who came second in the election and Obi who came third, are seeking to set aside the judgement of the Justice Haruna Tsammani-led five-member panel of the PEPC, which had on September 6, dismissed petitions they filed against Tinubu.

Specifically, Atiku, contended that the verdict of the PEPC was not only “against the weight of evidence” but occasioned a grave miscarriage of justice against him.

The former vice president insisted that the PEPC panel erred in law, when it failed to nullify the presidential election on the grounds of non-compliance with the Electoral Act, 2022, even when evidence showed that the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, acted in breach of extant laws and regulations guiding the conduct of elections.

He accused the PEPC of reaching its unanimous decision based on gross misconstruction and misrepresentation of provisions of both the 1999 Constitution, as amended, and the Electoral Act, 2022.

According to him, “The lower court erred in law when it refused to uphold the mandatories of electronic transmission of results for confirmation and verification of final results introduced by the Electoral Act 2022 for transparency and integrity of results in accordance with the principles of the Act.”

He argued among other issues, that section 64(4) & (5) of the Electoral Act, as well as INEC’s Regulations & Guidelines for the conduct of the election, which he tendered in evidence, made mandatory, the use of the Bimodal Voter Accreditation System, BVAS, machines for electronic transmission of results of the election directly from the polling units to INEC’s collation system for the verification, confirmation and collation of results before the announcement.

In his appeal, Obi argued 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.

They equally accused the Justice Tsammani-led panel of erring in law when it relied on paragraphs 4(1) (d) (2) and 54 of the First Schedule to the Electoral Act 2022 to strike out paragraphs of the petition.

While accusing the lower court of breaching his right to a fair hearing, Obi, insisted that evidence of his witnesses was wrongly dismissed as incompetent.

He told the apex court that the panel unjustly dismissed his allegation that INEC uploaded 18, 088 blurred results on its IReV portal.

Obi insisted that the PEPC overlooked evidence that established that President Tinubu was previously indicted and fined the sum of $460, 000 in the USA over his involvement in a drug-related case.

On its own part, the APM’s appeal faulted the September 6 judgment of the PEPC dismissing its petition for lack of locus standi by contending that the PEPC failed to painstakingly  to consider the provisions of sections 130, 137, 139, 142 and 239 of the 1999 Constitution as well as sections 29, 31, 33 and 34 of the Electoral Act, 2022, as they apply to its quest for the validity or otherwise of the said election of Tinubu and Shettima as president and vice president.

It argued that by holding that its petition is a pre-election matter, the PEPC erred in law when it misinterpreted section 142 (1) of the 1999 constitution as a pre-election provision.

Meanwhile, Justices on the bench of the apex court has depleted to 10 as another Justice of the Court, Musa Dattijo Muhammad bows out on Friday, October 27, 2023.

His retirement notice which was served on the Court’s management  will lapse on the date when a befitting special valedictory court session will be held in his honour to mark the retirement.

A statement by the court’s Director of Press and Information, Dr. Akande Aweneri Festus indicated that the valedictory session would hold at the Main Courtroom of the Court by 10am.

According to the statement, the special court session will be presided over by the Chief Justice of Nigeria, Olukayode Ariwoola, who will customarily pay tribute to Justice Dattijo alongside other major stakeholders in the nation’s justice sector.

Justice Dattijo who hails from Chanchaga Local Government Area of Niger State, was born on Tuesday,  October 27, 1953 in Minna. He attended Native Primary School, Minna from 1960 to 1966 for his First School Leaving Certificate.

Between 1967 and 1971, he was at Sheikh Sabbah College (now Sardauna Memorial Secondary School), Kaduna, from where he proceeded to Abdullahi Bayero College, Kano for a Pre-Degree programme which aided his immediate admission into the Faculty of Law at the Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria where he bagged a degree in Law in 1977.

He was called to the Nigerian Bar on 2nd July 1977. Not satisfied with only a first Degree in Law, Justice Dattijo sought admission at Warwick University in 1982 for an LLM Degree which he obtained in 1983.

He earned a well-deserved elevation to the Court of Appeal on 21st November, 1998 from the Niger State Judiciary, and served meritoriously at different Divisions.

He took the oath of office as Justice of the Supreme Court on Tuesday, July 10, 2012. His ascension to the Court of Appeal was more of a reward for hard work, inherent passion for his chosen profession, dedication to duty, and above all, a resolute application of the law in its true letters and words to all cases that came to him.


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