President Tinubu Laughs Last as Supreme Court Upholds His Election

President Tinubu Laughs Last as Supreme Court Upholds His Election

….Dismisses Appeals and Upheld Lower Court Judgement … Describes Atiku, Obi’s Appeals as Vexatious Like a cat with nine lives, President Bola Ahmed Tinubu, won the final legal hurdle to his February 25th victory at the polls as seven justices of the Supreme Court on Thursday took a “clinical look” at all the issues raised

….Dismisses Appeals and Upheld Lower Court Judgement

… Describes Atiku, Obi’s Appeals as Vexatious

Like a cat with nine lives, President Bola Ahmed Tinubu, won the final legal hurdle to his February 25th victory at the polls as seven justices of the Supreme Court on Thursday took a “clinical look” at all the issues raised by his two major political opponents and refused their applications to disqualify him and upheld his declaration as winner of the election by the Independent National Electoral Commission and affirmed by the Presidential Election Petition Court.

Atiku, Tinubu, Obi

It was the end of the road for the Presidential candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) Alhaji Atiku Abubakar in his appeal against the verdict of the Presidential Election Petition Court (PEPC) which upheld the victory of President Bola Ahmed Tinubu in the 25 February Presidential Election describing the appeal as “a vexatious process”. Peter Obi, the candidate of the Labour Party also suffered the same fate of rejection by the Supreme Court.

In his lead judgement, Justice Inyang Okoro, highlighted the seven issues condensed for determination and resolved all the issues against the appellants. His six other brother justices concurred with his judgement. The other justices on the panel are Justices Uwani Abba-Aji, Mohammed Lawal Garba, Adamu Jauro, Ibrahim
Saulawa, Tijani Abubakar and Emmanuel Agim.

The judgement put to rest Alhaji Abubakar’s fierce legal battle which stretched outside the shores of the country, extending to the United States with a view to overturning President Tinubu’s victory at the 25 February election.The court dismissed the bid by Atiku to tender fresh evidence of certificate forgery against President Tinubu.

The fresh evidence was a deposition of the Registrar of Chicago State University (CSU) on the academic records of President Tinubu. The former Vice President had obtained the document after winning a legal case in a US court which compelled the University to release President Tinubu’s academic records to Alhaji Abubakar to prove allegation of certificate forgery against President Tinubu.

The court held that it lacked the jurisdiction to entertain such evidence which was not tendered before the lower court.
Justice Okoro also said the appellant’s counsels were tardy and not diligent in their attempt to obtain the evidence and tender it at the lower court.

According to Justice Okoro, as of the time Alhaji Abubakar brought the document, the court of first instance, the Presidential Election Petition Court(PEPC) had lost jurisdiction to hear Alhaji Abubakar’s petition challenging President Tinubu’s election adding that the Supreme Court did not have the power to accept and act on the evidence which the lower court did not admit and act on.

The Presiding Justice wondered why Alhaji Abubakar sought to tender the fresh evidence when the grounds of his appeal did not raise the issue of certificate forgery against the President Tinubu. Hear him: “The jurisdiction of this court is donated by the Constitution. One wonders what the appellant (Alhaji Abubakar) intends to do when none of his grounds of appeal is hinged on forgery against the second respondent (President Tinubu)”.

The judge explained that Alhaji Abubakar’s attempt to introduce the fresh evidence was aimed at reversing the gains made in speedy adjudication of electoral disputes following the amendment to the Electoral Act and the Constitution.

On the issue of non-compliance, Justice Okoro said Alhaji Abubakar failed to show how non-compliance substantially affected the result of the election.

The presiding justice struck out the allegation by Atiku that failure to promptly upload the polling unit results of the election to IReV amounted to non-compliance with the provisions of the Electoral Act, thus, invalidating the election.

In dismissing this argument, the court held that “failure of IReV does not stop collation of results. It is therefore resolved against the appellants.

The court also held that President Tinubu’s failure to score 25 per cent of the votes in the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) when he had polled 25 percent votes in over 24 states as required by law did not affect his victory in the election.

Hear Justice Okoro:”To be very sincere, I see nothing wrong in the decision of the lower court. A narrow and selfish approach should be avoided in interpreting a statute”, he stressed, adding that “the decision of the court below is unassailable”.

On the issue of extension of time, the court held that the appellants are totally foreclosed stressing that the decision of the court below to strike out subpoenaed witnesses holds. The court held that: “a subpoena is not a tool to circumvent the law”.

Ruling on issue number five, striking out certain some paragraphs, Justice Okoro resolved the issue against Alhaji Abubakar. The court also held that Atiku failed to prove his allegation of widespread rigging during the election or that he won the election.

“I am unable to find any figures put forward by the appellant that he scored the majority votes, other than the figures declared by INEC declaring the second respondent (Tinubu) winner of the election.The votes before us show that the second respondent Tinubu won the election,” Justice Okoro said.

On the issue of use of disparaging words by the lower court against the appellant, Justice Okoro said “the words of the court were not meant to disparage the appellant” and did not amount to bias against appellant as argued by their counsel.

“On the whole, having resolved all the issues against the appellant, I hold that there is no merit in this appeal and it is hereby dismissed,” Justice Okoro said.

According to him, the judgement of the PEPC delivered on 6 Septemeber, affirming President Tinubu as the duly elected President of Nigeria “is hereby affirmed.”

In his judgement on Mr. Peter Obi and the Labour Party’s ( LP) appeal, Justice Okoro said the appeal was similar to the appeal of the PDP’s standard bearer, Alhaji Abubakar.

Specifically, Justice Okoro said the distinguishing difference in the two appeals was: “Issue number four- which is double nomination “.

“This issue having been dealt with by this court on 26 May 2023, cannot be relitigated. Appeal lacked merit and it is hereby dismissed “, he said.

Other Justices on the panel agreed with him that it lacked merit.

Personalities in Court

National Chairman of the All Progressives Congress (APC) Dr. Abdullahi Ganduje, Chief of Staff to the President, Mr Femi Gbajabiamila, National Security Adviser (NSA) Mallam Nuhu Ribadu, Ogun state governor, Mr. Dapo Abiodun, Minister of the Federal Capital Territory, Mr Nyesom Wike, Mr. Boni Haruna former Adamawa Governor, National Chairman of LP Mr. Julius Abure Esq., son of the President, Mr. Seyi Tinubu,Esq.

Legal practitioners
Present in Court were Dr Livy Uzoukwu SAN, lead counsel to Mr. Peter Obi and Labour Party (LP); Chief Chris Uche SAN, Mr. Tayo Jegede SAN, Prof. Mike Ozekhome, Chief P.I.N. Ikweto,SAN, Mrs Valeria Azinge SAN, Sir. Stephen Adehi SAN, Mr. Alhazan A Umar SAN.

Lead counsel to President Tinubu, Chief Wole Olanipekun Senior Advocate of Nigeria (SAN), All Progressives Congress (APC) lead counsel, Chief Akin Olujimi we’re conspicuously absent at Thursday’s court session. Chief Olanipekun did not also attend court the day the Presidential Election Petition Court ( PEPC) delivered judgement in the cases. Mr. A. B Mahmuod SAN, lead counsel to the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) was also absent from Court.

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