LAGOS — President Bola Tinubu and his antagonists-Alhaji Atiku Abubakar, Mr Peter Obi and the Allied Peoples Movement, APM, will resume the battle for the presidency, today, at the Supreme Court as Tinubu’s aides and the main opposition Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, expect favourable ruling at the apex court.
Atiku, the PDP presidential candidate in the February 26 poll; Obi of the Labour Party, LP; and the APM, filed separate appeals at the apex court seeking to nullify the election of President Tinubu.
The Supreme Court communicated the hearing date through notices sent to all the parties, last Thursday.
Apart from faulting the verdict of the Presidential Election Petition Court, PEPC, which affirmed Tinubu’s election, Atiku also filed for permission to tender a copy of Tinubu’s academic records released by the Chicago State University, CSU, USA, which he said showed that Tinubu submitted a forged CSU certificate to the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC.
The former vice president is also seeking to get a Washington, D.C. court to order the FBI to release documents on President Tinubu’s $460,000 forfeiture case.
We have confidence in S-Court
The PDP, yesterday, expressed optimism that its appeal will succeed at the Supreme Court.
In a statement by its National Publicity Secretary, Debo Ologunagba, the PDP said its confidence is hinged on provisions of the Constitution and relevant sections of the Electoral Act 2022 (As amended).
Ologunagba said: “As the Supreme Court commences hearing on the February 25, 2023, Presidential Election Appeal, the PDP is confident that guided by the provisions of the law, the body of evidence, circumstances and facts presented before it, the apex court will deliver justice in the matter.
“The PDP believes that the issues of the February 2023, Presidential election; the bare-faced violation of rules and the laws, the brazen manipulations and falsifications in perversion of our electoral process have put our democracy in a precarious situation.
“Nigerians and indeed the whole world look forward to the Supreme Court for justice in the hope that the court will apply the laws, including the express provisions of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999 (as amended), the Electoral Act, 2022 and INEC Guidelines and Regulations in delivering substantial justice in the matter.
“The earnest expectation of Nigerians and lovers of democracy across the world is that the Supreme Court will use this case to firmly validate the maxim that the Judiciary is the last hope of the common man.
“Nigerians are therefore optimistic in hoping that the Supreme Court will dispense substantial Justice according to law and fact in the Appeal.”
Atiku, Obi engaged in another propaganda — Onanuga
Meanwhile, Mr Bayo Onanugta, Special Adviser on Information and Strategy to President Tinubu, has accused followers of Atiku and Obi of allegedly trying “to stampede the Washington, D.C. court to change its earlier order on FBI to release documents on President Tinubu’s forfeiture case of 1993.”
In a tweet on X(formerly known as Twitter) on October 21, Onanuga said: “The Obidients and Atiku Abubakar’s followers have begun another round of propaganda and campaign of falsehood over the move Friday by Atiku-Obi and David Hundeyin’s contractor Aaron Greenspan, to stampede the Washington DC court to change its earlier order on FBI to release documents on President Bola Tinubu’s forfeiture case of 1993.
“Atiku had wasted tons of dollars hiring Angela Liu to check President Tinubu’s record at Chicago State University. What he got in the main was a confirmation that President Tinubu attended the school, passed out in flying colours and did not forge any certificate. The February 2023 election losers, Peter Obi and Atiku, are now attempting to cling onto another straw, hoping for magic at the Supreme Court.
“On Thursday, Peter Obi forwarded to Greenspan, the Supreme Court notice of hearing for the appeal that will begin on Monday 23 October. We do not know the brief Obi gave Greenspan, but Greenspan rushed to the District Court in the US capital, with an emergency motion asking the court to compel the FBI to produce documents on our President immediately. The FBI had earlier agreed to produce the documents at the end of October. His motion may be heard on Monday 23 October, if all parties agree.
“To support his motion, the American made some allegations against the judiciary in Nigeria, as fed by Hundeyin, Obi and Atiku. He claimed the Supreme Court hearing date which he labelled as sudden, was intended to front-run the release of the FBI documents. To him, the FBI documents are relevant to the case in Nigeria. After reading Greenspan’s motion, one is left with the impression that the guy is very ignorant of our laws and our democracy and he is nothing but an interloper, in a matter clearly outside US jurisdiction.
“To the Obidients, the easily excitable Hundeyin and Atiku followers, I will just implore you to wait until the DC District Court decides on the matter, rather than rushing to the social media space with wild conjectures and extra-judicial trial of Nigeria’s elected President. Mr Greenspan, who is your collaborator in the latest fishing expedition is not so excitable. On his Plainsite-org, he already posted a reply by IRS that it has no FOIA records on President Tinubu’s 1993 civil case. Just like the Chicago case, this one too in DC will lead to nothing.”
Atiku, Obi, APM’s appeal
All the appellants 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 February 25 presidential election.
While Atiku, through his team of 67 lawyers comprising of 18 Senior Advocates of Nigeria led by Chief Chris Uche, SAN, filed 35 grounds of appeal to challenge 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, lodged a 10-ground appeal to invalidate President Tinubu’s election.
Both Atiku, who came second in the election and Obi, who came third, are seeking to set aside the judgment of the Justice Haruna Tsammani-led five-member panel of the PEPC, which had on September 6, dismissed their petitions against Tinubu.
Atiku contended that the verdict of the PEPC was not only “against the weight of evidence”, but occasioned a grave miscarriage of justice against him.
He insisted that the PEPC panel erred in law, when it failed to nullify the presidential election on the grounds of non-compliance with the Electoral Act, 2022, even when evidence showed that the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, acted in breach of extant laws and regulations guiding the conduct of elections.
Atiku accused the PEPC of reaching its unanimous decision based on gross misconstruction and misrepresentation of provisions of both the 1999 Constitution, as amended, and the Electoral Act, 2022.
He argued that section 64(4) & (5) of the Electoral Act, as well as INEC’s Regulations & Guidelines for the conduct of the election, which he tendered in evidence, made mandatory, the use of the Bimodal Voter Accreditation System, BVAS, machines for electronic transmission of results of the election directly from the polling units to INEC’s collation system for the verification, confirmation and collation of results before announcement.
Atiku told the apex court that some of the presiding officers that personally handled the BVAS machines at polling units on the election day, had in their testimony before the PEPC, “confirmed the non-transmission of results of the presidential election electronically from the BVAS machines, whereas results of the National Assembly election that held simultaneously, were electronically transmitted without difficulty.
Atiku told the apex court that the non-compliance with the Electoral Act was nationwide, cutting across 176, 846 polling units in the country, a situation he said substantially affected the outcome of the election.
On constitutional requirement of one-quarter of the votes in two-thirds of the states and the FCT, Abuja, Atiku, argued that it was an additional and mandatory requirement to the provisions relating to the highest lawful votes and therefore a condition precedent to a declaration by INEC.
“The said FCT, Abuja, cannot be construed as the 37th state of Nigeria as done by the lower court in the light of the clear provisions of section 2(2) & section 3(1) of the 1999 Constitution. The lower court failed in its duty to interpret the material word ‘AND’ in the said sub-section.
“The provision of section 134(2) (b) of the Constitution is clear on the requirement that a presidential candidate must score at least 25% of the total votes in the FCT, Abuja.”
He prayed the Supreme Court to among other things, hold that Tinubu was not duly elected by majority of lawful votes cast in the election and also declare that he was not qualified to be declared the winner.
Aside from praying the court to declare him as the authentic winner of the election and order his swearing in as President, Atiku, in the alternative, urged the court to order a run-off between him and Tinubu or to nullify the entire poll and order INEC to conduct a fresh one. Cited as respondents were INEC, Tinubu and the APC.
Appeal Court erred —Peter Obi
On his own appeal, Obi argued that the PEPC panel erred in law and thereby reached a wrong conclusion when it dismissed his petition.
He alleged that the panel wrongly evaluated the proof of evidence he adduced before it and occassioned a grave miscarriage of justice when it held that he did not specify polling units where irregularities occured during the election.
Obi and the LP further faulted the PEPC for dismissing their case on the premise that they did not specify the figures of votes or scores that were allegedly suppressed or inflated in favour of President Tinubu and the APC.
They accused the Justice Tsammani-led panel of erring in law when it relied on paragraph 4(1) (d) (2) and 54 of the First Schedule to the Electoral Act 2022 to strike out paragraphs of the petition.
He told the apex court that the panel unjustly dismissed his allegation that INEC uploaded 18, 088 blurred results on its IReV portal.
Furthermore, Obi, alleged that the lower court ignored his allegation that certified true copies of documents that INEC issued to his legal team, comprised of 8, 123 blurred results that contained blank A4 papers, pictures and images of unknown persons, purporting same to be the CTC of polling units results of the presidential election.
“The learned justices of the court below erred in law and occasioned a miscarriage of justice when they concluded that he failed to establish the allegation of corrupt practices and over-voting,” Obi added.
He said it was wrong for the lower court to rely on the legal principle of estoppel to dismiss his contention that INEC bypassed its own regulations when it refused to electronically transmit results of the election from polling units to the IReV.
Obi insisted that the PEPC overlooked evidence that established that President Tinubu was previously indicted and fined the sum of $460,000 in the USA over his involvement in a drug-related case.
Tinubu not eligible—APM
In its appeal, the APM, maintained its position that Tinubu was not eligible to participate in the presidential poll, and said that the PEPC relied on technicality to dismiss its petition challenging Tinubu’s nomination by the APC.
According to the party, the PEPC erred in law, when it wrongfully waved aside the allegation that Tinubu’s running mate and Vice President, Kashim Shettima, was nominated twice for different positions by the APC, in relation to the 2023 general elections.
It faulted the verdict of the PEPC, saying it was wrong for the court to dismiss its case against Tinubu’s election on the premise that it was not only incompetent but contained pre-election issues.
APM argued that sections 131 and 142 (1) of the 1999 Constitution, as amended, were inextricably linked “and neither can be confined as a pre-election matter, as these qualifications are condition precedents to being elected to the office of President.”
It contended that being validly elected entailed “being qualified to contest the election,” adding that a valid election include the threshold of qualifications and disqualification, as stipulated in the Constitution.
The party wants the apex court to declare that the return of Tinubu by INEC as President-elect was null, void, and of no legal effect whatsoever.
The APM is praying for the Supreme Court to nullify and void all votes scored by APC in the Presidential election, as well as to make an order, directing INEC to return the second-highest score at the election as the winner of the presidential contest.
Meantime, President Tinubu, APC and INEC have since asked the apex court to dismiss the appeals which they said were bereft of merit.
President Tinubu also 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.
Source : Vanguard