More legal fireworks trail 2023 presidential poll

After a hectic legal battle in the United States of America (USA), regarding his academic records, President Bola Tinubu faces another uphill fight to thwart the release of his records with the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) and other sister security agencies.

Tinubu lost an earlier legal battle at the United States District Court for the Northern District of Illinois in Chicago, to stop the Chicago State University (CSU) from releasing his academic records to his political archrival and former vice president, Atiku Abubakar.

Shortly after that, the president is now sweating in his last-ditch effort to prevent an early release of records relating to his residency in the United States by the FBI.

The FBI acting on a July 21, 2022, application which was predicated on the Freedom of Information, by an IT Consultant, Aaron Greenspan, the FBI said it would release approximately 2,500 documents relating to President Tinubu in its database.

The documents relate to records that may help answer questions about the president’s real identity and some other secrets activities.

However, Tinubu has filed an application before a United States District Court of Columbia against the country’s agencies.

In the said application, Tinubu listed the Executive Office for US Attorneys, the U.S. Department of State, the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), the U.S. Department of the Treasury, the Internal Revenue Service, the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration and the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) as defendants.

One of the lawyers who represented the President in the recent academic record case, Christopher Carmichael, reportedly filed the application on October 18, 2023, under Civil Local Rule 83.2(c).

At the home front, the president is being confronted with 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 (SAN) against Tinubu’s victory, Obi, through his own team of lawyers led by Dr. Livy Uzoukwu, SAN, 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.

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 States Court.

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.

A panel of seven-Justices of the Supreme Court comprising Justices Adamu Jauro, Justice Uwani Musa, Musa Abba Aji, Justice Lawal Garba, Justice Helen Ogunwumiju, Justice I.N. Saulawa, Justice Tijani Abubakar and Justice Emmanuel Agim have been saddled with the responsibility of hearing Atiku’s appeal.

On the contentious request by Atiku to bring in fresh evidence relating to the academic records of Tinubu released by the CSU, the general rule is that additional evidence at the Supreme Court or any Court of Appeal is not encouraged at all, but that doesn’t mean that it is totally forbidden.

“However, the rules for admitting it are very stringent. Except when it is dealing with matters that have come before it under its original jurisdiction, the Supreme Court doesn’t, generally, admit evidence.

The first is that such evidence is going to be extremely material to the resolution of the issues in the case. That’s one of the hurdles to be crossed.


The second hurdle is that such evidence could not have been procured during the trial at the trial court by reasonable diligence.

“So it is either the evidence was not available at the time of the trial, or it could not, by any kind of due diligence or any reasonable effort, be made available.

“For evidence to be admissible at the Supreme Court or in any Court of Appeal, it has to, at a very minimum, satisfy those two conditions.

In any case, Atiku’s legal team has put in strong grounds of law for the grant of his request and has called on the apex court to avoid technicalities and grant his request. Tinubu on the other had has urged the court to dismiss same.

In all of these, the Supreme Court has discretionary power in either admitting or not allowing fresh evidence to come in.”

But if the apex court agrees with Atiku and admits the fresh evidence which borders on forgery, then President Tinubu will find himself in real trouble.

This is because the apex court had on several occasions insisted that anybody found to have forged certificates to seek qualification to contest for any elective position will not be allowed because of the criminality involved.

The court strongly held that the issue of certificate forgery to secure eligibility for election is a serious issue that must not be allowed in the country’s body polity.

In 2017, Justice Sidi Dauda Badeh of the Supreme Court had while delivering judgment on the case of Okpokwu, Ado, and Ogbadibo Federal Constituency of Benue State, (House of Representatives) declared that Nigeria will be doomed when certificate forgers are allowed to take center stage in the elections for political offices.

Justice Badeh who gave the lead judgment in the appeal lodged by Honorable Hassan Anthony Saleh upheld his nomination by the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, as the candidate of the party in the 2015 National Assembly Election.

The Supreme Court said the respondent in the appeal, Christian Abba, who was laying claim to the ticket of PDP for the Federal Constituency must not be allowed to have his way because he had his hand soiled in a proven certificate forgery.

Abba was confirmed by the Federal Polytechnic, Mubi in Adamawa State to have forged a National Diploma Certificate in Accountancy upon which he was forced to withdraw from the same race in 2011. Yet in a dramatic turn, he used the same forged certificate to secure PDP ticket in the 2014 PDP Primary Election.

Justice Badeh insisted that Supreme Court, being the highest court in the land must take the lead in righting the wrong so as to bring sanity into the murky water of the country’s electioneering process.

He said the murky water of the Nigeria body politics will remain murky and contaminated until the people who forged certificate with reckless impunity are shown the way out.

Justice Badeh in the case ruled that Abba has no basis to be in the race for the National Assembly election in 2015 having been found to have secured the eligibility through forged certificate.

“Let me say it here categorically and with emphasis that this court, being the highest court in the country must rise and take the lead in righting the wrongs in our electioneering process.”

“The murky water will remain contaminated in our body polity until the reckless issue of certificate forgery with impunity is thoroughly addressed and put to a final end in our own interest”.

The Apex court, thereafter, nullified the nomination of Abba and ordered that the clearance issued to him by PDP for the National Assembly Election be withdrawn.

If the apex court follows the above precedence, then, President Tinubu will have no choice than to vacate his office over his involvement in forgery.


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