BREAKING: Supreme Court to deliver judgment in Atiku, Obi appeals Thursday

The Supreme Court will on Thursday October 26 deliver judgment in the two surviving appeals filed by former vice president Atiku Abubakar of the People’s 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.

By the instant law, the Supreme Court has 60 days within which to hear the appeals and give its final judgment.

The court communicated the judgment date to all the parties on Wednesday, through a notice that was signed by one of its registrars.

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 from 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 CSU certificate he submitted to INEC for the 25 February election.

The former president 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 Presidential Election Petition Court (PEPC), delivered its judgment.

During proceedings, Atiku’s lead counsel, Chris Uche, sought to tender the academic records released by the University along with the deposition of the university’s 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 submotted.

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,” he added.

“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, also a SAN, asked the court to dismiss Atiku’s application seeking to tender Mr Tinubu’s academic records.

APC lawyer, Akin Olujinmi, also a SAN, said Atiku’s application “lacked merit”.

“t 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,” the lawyer added.

In his main 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 mandatoriness 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.

Obi’s lead lawyer, Livy Uzoukwu, SAN, urged the court to allow his client’s appeal and set aside the September 6 judgment of the Presidential Election Petition Court (PEPC), which affirmed Mr Tinubu’s election.

But Tinubu’s counsel, Wole Olanipekun, a SAN, argued that Mr Obi’s appeal lacked merit and should be dismissed accordingly.

In a similar position, counsel to the All Progressives Congress (APC), Akin Olujinmi, SAN, 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.

They accused the Justice Haruna Tsammani-led PEPC 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 were 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.

In addition, Obi alleged that the lower court ignored his allegation that certified true copies of documents that INEC issued to his legal team, comprised of 8, 123 blurred results that contained blank A4 papers, pictures and images of unknown persons, purporting the same to be the CTC of polling units results of the presidential election.

“The learned justices of the court below erred in law and occasioned a miscarriage of justice when they held and concluded that he failed to establish the allegation of corrupt practices and over-voting,” Obi added.



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