The Nigerian Supreme Court has adjourned ruling on the appeals challenging the victory of President Bola Tinubu in the February 25 election.
Follow the September 6 ruling of the Presidential Election Petition Court in favour of President Tinubu of the All Progressives Congress (APC) over the outcome of the February 25 polls, his opponents, Atiku Abubakar of the People’s Democratic Party (PDP), Peter Obi of the Labour Party and the Allied Peoples Movement moved the battle to the Supreme Court to decide their fate.
The 7-member panel of the apex court led by Justice John Okoro on Monday, adjourned the matter after the arguments of counsels of respective parties.
Other members of the panel are Mohammed Lawal Garba, Helen Moronkeji Ogunwumiju, Ibrahim Musa Saulawa, Tijjani Abubakar, Adamu Jauro, and Emmanuel Akomaye Agim.
Announcing the adjournment, Justice Okoro stated: “This appeal is reserved for judgement until a date to be communicated to parties.”
The parties expect favourable ruling. Atiku Obi, and APM had filed separate appeals at the apex court seeking to nullify the election of President Tinubu. They faulted the verdict of the Presidential Election Petition Court, PEPC, which affirmed Tinubu’s election.
APM counsel, Chukwuma Umeh, filed an application to withdraw the party’s appeal after the Supreme Court denied their motion to nullify Tinubu’s election.
Atiku had also filed an application for permission to tender a copy of Tinubu’s academic records released by the Chicago State University (CSU), USA, to prove that Tinubu forged the certificate he submitted to the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC). This move by Atiku had in the past few weeks generated reactions from different quarters.
The request made by Atiku to provide new proof on alleged falsified papers was also debated by lawyers representing the parties before the Supreme Court.
Atiku Abubakar’s attorney, Mr. Chris Uche, pleaded with the court to approve the motion, accept their appeal, grant the requested pleas, and disqualify Tinubu.
The respondents through their counsels- Abubakar Mahmoud, representing INEC, Wole Olanipekun, President Tinubu, and Akin Olujinmi, for the All Progressives Congress (APC), pleaded with the court to reject the motion and appeal on the grounds that it lacks merit.
On the Atiku’s application, the apex court held that there are conflicting letters from the Chicago State University (CSU) on President Bola Tinubu’s certificate.
Atiku, who filed an application to enable him prove that Tinubu forged certificate presented to INEC, could not receive the records from CSU before the 180-day statutory window in which an election petition needed to be submitted and decided passed.
Given the gravity of the matter, Atiku requested that the court allow him to file an appeal in order to provide new evidence. Tinubu objected, claiming that doing so would be a misuse of the legal system.
Atiku based his appeal on the argument that it is a serious constitutional violation that should not be tolerated when a candidate, particularly one running for the nation’s highest position, presents falsified documentation.
However, Tinubu took a slingshot, claiming that the case is pre-election among other things, and he then begged the court to reject the application’s issuance.
Atiku criticized Tinubu while arguing that decisions or pronouncements about matters of merit should not be made at the interlocutory phase.
Additionally, the PDP presidential standard bearer in the last election noted that presenting a fake certificate permanently disqualifies candidate.
However, speaking at the hearing on Monday, Justice Okoro stressed that criminal matters have to be proved beyond reasonable doubt.
“But in this case, there are two conflicting letters from the CSU – one authenticating the president’s certificate and another discrediting it. Which do we rely on?,” he asked.
Nigerians eagerly await the ruling of the apex court on the outcome of the February 25 presidential election.