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Atiku vs Tinubu: Supreme court raises concern over ‘conflicting letters’ from CSU

Atiku vs Tinubu: Supreme court raises concern over ‘conflicting letters’ from CSU
October 24
16:10 2023

The supreme court has raised concerns over two “conflicting letters” from Chicago State University (CSU) on President Bola Tinubu’s academic records.

Atiku Abubakar and the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) are seeking to overturn the judgment of the presidential election petition tribunal which affirmed Tinubu’s declaration as president.

In the 35 grounds notice of appeal, the appellants submitted that the tribunal’s findings were done with “grave errors and gross misrepresentation” which resulted in a miscarriage of justice. 

In a separate application, Abubakar is appealing to the court to grant him leave to file fresh evidence obtained from CSU.

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At the court session on Monday, Chris Uche, counsel to Abubakar and the PDP, prayed the court to grant their application.

Questioning Uche while he was adopting his brief of arguments, Inyang Okoro, who led a seven-member panel of the apex court, asked why the deposition of the CSU registrar was not done in a US courtroom.

The judge said although the court order did not state where the depositions should take place, he expected that they would go back to that same court to make the said depositions for the witness to testify on oath, so that the record of his testimony would be the record of the court authenticating the document.

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“I do not see a reason for holding that examination in the law office of the appellant counsel,” Okoro said.

Responding, Uche said having the deposition done in the office of Abubakar’s US attorney followed an agreement between parties in the suit.

He added that all the parties in the suit were also represented.

Probing further, Okoro said he observed that there were two conflicting letters from CSU.

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According to him, one of the letters authenticated the president’s certificate and the other discredited it.

“We have seen one letter saying this and we have seen another one saying another thing,” the justice said.

“This thing we are talking about is a criminal offence which has to be proven beyond reasonable doubt. 

“When you have documents that are coming from the same university, one positive and one negative, I don’t know how we will resolve that.”

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‘WEIGHTY, GRAVE, CONSTITUTIONAL ISSUE’

Addressing the court’s concern, Uche said both letters referred to by the justice were not explicit which was what necessitated the deposition from CSU.

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“On the two conflicting letters, one issued to one Micheal Enahoro-Ebah and another issued to Tinubu’s attorney, both were signed by the same university but they were not explicit,” he said.

He said the deposition showed that the certificate presented to INEC did not “emanate from that university”. 

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“Depositions are more effective in law than writing letters,” Uche added.

“My lord, that was what necessitated this collaborative evidence which is the deposition which now fills the scale.”

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Uche said “the issue involving Tinubu’s certificate is a weighty, grave, and constitutional one, which the supreme court should admit”.

“The court should take a look at Tinubu’s records and reach a decision devoid of technicality. As a policy court, the court has a duty to look at it and should side-step technicalities,” he said.

However, counsel to all the respondents in the suit opposed the application and prayed the court to dismiss the appeal in its entirety.

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