The Labour Party has called for clarification on why pages of some of copies of the Presidential Election Petition Court Judgement bear the inscription “Tinubu Presidential Legal Team” (TPLT).
The copy of the document which has been circulating online since the Certified True Copy (CTC) of the judgment was released to the petitioners who want to file an appeal at the Supreme Court, has stirred controversy.
The Labour Party which has moved to appeal the PEPC’s judgment that upheld the election of President Bola Tinubu, said it was very “disturbed by the delay in releasing the judgment expeditiously,” and further befuddled by the appearance of the TPLT imprint on some copies of the judgment.
In a statement signed by its National Publicity Secretary, Obiora Ifoh, the party said the duty lies on PEPC and the TPLT to explain what led to that and douse the “unfolding controversy” generated by the incident.
Ifoh said that the explanation offered in a statement purportedly issued by a senior counsel on behalf of the Tinubu Legal Team which said that it was a watermark is “misconceived and empty.” He pointed out that the inscription appeared as a header in the document not a watermark.
Part of the statement read: “The Labour Party was very disturbed by the delay in releasing the judgment expeditiously, only to be confronted with this befuddlement. The public is equally at pains trying to comprehend what is happening.
“The onus of explaining and dousing the unfolding controversy rests on the PEPC and the TPLT, the imprint owners. Clearly, the header is not a watermark. We note that only some of the petitioners received the same version.
“In a highly contentious case with dire national interest and implications, confirming that the PEPC did not confer any advantage, rights, or privileges to any party is imperative. This development must be cleared up quickly to avoid conjectures and the belief that something untoward happened. This cannot be the case of another glitch.
“The unsigned and undated statement issued purportedly by a senior counsel on behalf of the Tinubu Legal Team is misconceived and empty. The senior counsel claimed that the header is a watermark! It is not and can never be. Typically, a watermark is a faint imprint or design made on some papers during production and which can be seen when held up to the light. It helps in checking the genuineness of the paper.”
The party further emphasized the need to quickly clarify the issue given the sensitive nature of the matter now.
“The senior counsel is responsible for unsubstantiating his claims and should not pass the buck to innocent parties. We of the Labour Party place it on record that the counsel who collected the judgment on behalf of our party and our candidate did so long after a representative of the Tinubu Legal Team.
“Meanwhile, we call on the PEPC and APC to come clean on the CTC imprint and disclose whose imprimatur is inscribed on the entire judgment. Nigerians deserve the right to know and are demanding urgent answers,” the statement added.
Meanwhile, the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) presidential candidate, Atiku Abubakar, raised questions on the matter.
In a statement on Saturday, his media aide, Phrank Shaibu, Atiku said the court “must explain to Nigerians and the world why the header of Tinubu Presidential Legal Team was on CTC copies of its judgment.”
He reinforced the perception among opposition political parties that the tribunal was biased in its judgment.
Atiku’s aide further reechoed the speculations making the rounds that members of the ruling All Progressives Congress participated in drafting the tribunal judgment.
However, Babatunde Ogala, the coordinator of the Tinubu Presidential Legal Team (TPLP) – the umbrella body of the battery of lawyers that defended Mr Tinubu’s election victory at the PEPC – has dismissed all insinuations concerning the controversial imprint.
Recall that the five-member panel of justices of the tribunal led by Justice Haruna Tsammani, on Wednesday, in a unanimous judgment, dismissed all three petitions challenging Tinubu’s victory in the 25 February election.
Peter Obi of the Labour Party and Atiku Abubakar of the PDP have vowed to challenge the outcome in court.