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Supreme court reserves judgment in Atiku, Obi’s appeals against Tinubu

The supreme court has reserved judgment in the appeals filed by Atiku Abubakar and Peter Obi challenging the election of President Bola Tinubu.

A seven-member panel of the apex court reserved judgment after parties in the appeals adopted their respective briefs of arguments on Monday.

ABUBAKAR’S APPEAL

Abubakar and the PDP had filed a petition challenging the outcome of the February 25 presidential election.

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However, the presidential election petition tribunal in its judgment on September 6, held that Abubakar failed to prove all the averments in his petition.

Aggrieved, the PDP candidate filed an appeal before the apex court on September 18.

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

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In a separate application, Abubakar is appealing to the court to grant him leave to file fresh evidence against Tinubu.

Abubakar had alleged that Tinubu’s academic records were fraught with discrepancies and forgeries.

At the court session on Monday, Chris Uche, counsel to Abubakar and the PDP, submitted that the issue involving Tinubu’s certificate is a “weighty, grave and constitutional” one, which the supreme court should admit as fresh evidence against President Tinubu.

Uche said the supreme court “has a duty” to look into the new evidence submitted and reach a decision by avoiding the issue of technicality.

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Asked why the court should put aside constitutional provisions and entertain the fresh evidence, Uche said the supreme court is not bound by the timeline on electoral dispute when it come to issues of national interest.

“The 180 days having elapsed, cannot tie the hands of my lords,” Uche said.

Uche prayed the court to allow the application as well as the substantive appeal.

However, Tinubu through his counsel, Wole Olanipekun, prayed the court to dismiss the application and appeal.

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“The court of appeal is a tribunal. The First Schedule to the Electoral Act 2022 as well as section 285 (13) of the 1999 Constitution, as amended, is very clear,” Olanipekun said.

“They merely went on a fishing expedition in the US. The evidence they are seeking to tender is not at large. It cannot be compartmentalised in any way.

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“Even Alice in Wonderland knew where she was going. At least she was told where she was going.

“My lords, this is an application that we believe is in Wonderland. It has no merit.

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“The courts are bound by the law. The law is to be interpreted as it is and not as it ought to be,” Tinubu’s lawyer argued.

JUDGEMENT IN OBI’S APPEAL RESERVED

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The apex court also reserved judgment in the appeal filed by Obi, candidate of the Labour Party (LP), against the election of Tinubu.

At the court session on Monday, all parties in the suit adopted their briefs of argument.

Livy Uzoukwu, counsel to the appellants, prayed the court to allow the appeal while the respondents’ counsel prayed the court to dismiss it.

Obi and his party had filed a petition challenging the outcome of the February 25 poll.

Some of the issues raised against Tinubu included his failure to secure 25 percent of votes cast in the federal capital territory (FCT), and his forfeiture of $460,000 in the US. 

They also challenged the failure of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to transmit election results electronically. 

However, a five-member panel of the presidential tribunal led by Haruna Tsammani, had on September 6, dismissed Obi’s petition.

Obi then filed a 73-page notice of appeal premised on 51 grounds.

In the notice of appeal, Obi and his party insisted that the tribunal erred in its findings that Tinubu won the election by the majority of lawful votes cast.

They also faulted the panel for striking out several paragraphs in their petitions.

The appellants said the panel was wrong to have held that they failed to prove their allegation of non-compliance with the Electoral Act.

Consequently, they are praying the supreme court to “set aside the perverse judgment of the court below” and “grant the reliefs sought in the petition either in the main or in the alternative”.

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