Many Nigerians can’t wait to see the Supreme Court Presidential Election’s Tribunal Grand Finale Begin on Monday.
On Monday, October 23, the Supreme Court will host the last legal proceedings concerning the contentious presidential election. This comes after three distinct appeals against the ruling of the presidential election tribunal, which upheld President Bola Tinubu’s declaration as the election’s victor, were listed.
The Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) candidate Atiku Abubakar, Peter Obi of the Labour Party (LP), and the Allied People’s Movement (APM) have three cases pending before the Supreme Court.
This came while the President was being chastised by Phrank Shaibu, Atiku’s Special Assistant on Public Communication, for his latest attempt to obstruct the disclosure of the specifics of the FBI’s criminal investigation into him.
The appeals had been scheduled for hearing on the specified day, according to a notice of hearing in the appeals sent to the parties on October 19. The notification was signed by Zainab Garba, one of the Supreme Court registrars.
On the other hand, Obi and the LP offered 51 grounds of appeal, while Atiku and his party submitted 35 grounds on which they sought the Presidential Election Petition Court’s ruling to be overturned for legal errors.
The former vice president filed a complaint on September 18 against the Presidential Election plea Court’s decision to reject his combined plea with the PDP on September 6 due to its lack of merit.
In a unanimous ruling, the panel determined that Atiku and the other petitioners challenging the results of the February 25 presidential election were unable to provide evidence to support their claims against the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC).
In particular, the panel headed by Justice Haruna Tsammani held in their rulings that Atiku had requested that the court nullify Tinubu’s election on the grounds that the oral and documentary evidence put before them was insufficient to substantiate the allegations of irregularities, corrupt practices, and non-compliance.
Disgruntled, Atiku urged the Supreme Court to overturn the lower tribunal’s ruling, arguing among other things that it had committed a legal error in upholding the results of the poll on February 25.
Furthermore, Atiku pleaded that the Supreme Court would recognize him as the legitimate winner of the election and nullify Tinubu’s victory.
The former vice president, who finished second in the poll, asserted that Tinubu did not receive the majority of valid votes cast in the election and that Tinubu was the beneficiary of electoral umpire manipulation.
In addition, he had on October 6 filed an application with the Supreme Court requesting permission to introduce new and further material that Tinubu was ineligible for the election because he had allegedly provided a falsified certificate to INEC the previous year, in violation of the Constitution.
Additionally, he had rejected Tinubu’s objection to the application’s approval in his reply on legal grounds, pleading with the highest court in the land to accept his application in the best interests of the nation.
The former vice president, Chief Chris Uche, SAN, claimed in the September 18 Notice of Appeal filed by his lead attorney that the tribunal had committed a legal error by failing to consider the “Doctrine of Legitimate Expectation” in relation to INEC’s inability to conduct the election in compliance with the Electoral Act, 2022 and its own guidelines.
When a public authority retracts a representation made to an individual, the concept of legitimate expectation was initially established in English law as a basis for judicial review in administrative law to safeguard a procedural or substantive interest.
According to Nigeria’s legitimate expectation philosophy, public authorities must respect the people and treat them according to their declared positions or long-standing practices when using their powers.
Expanding on this line of reasoning, Atiku informed the Supreme Court on Ground Seven that, “In light of the evidence before the Court, the First Respondent (INEC) conducted the election based on very grave and gross misrepresentation contrary to the principles of the Electoral Act 2022, based on the ‘doctrine of legitimate expectation,’ the lower court erred in law when it failed to nullify the presidential election held on February 25, 2023 on the ground of noncompliance with the Electoral Act 2022.”
He noted that the Electoral Act of 2022 mandated that the general elections of 2023 be conducted using the Bi-modal Verification Accreditation System (BVAS) and INEC’s Results Viewing (IReV) portals. He also mentioned that INEC, through Professor Yakubu Mahmoud, its Chairman, publicly assured candidates and political parties that the results of polling units must be electronically transmitted or transferred directly by the presiding officers.
The lower court was not presented with any evidence, he contended, that the first respondent had changed its previously mentioned guidelines and regulations to do away with the necessity that election results be sent electronically from polling places to the collation system of the first respondent.
According to Atiku’s submission, INEC “conducted the said presidential election based on the gross misrepresentation to the Appellants and the general voting public that the presiding officers were going to electronically transmit the results of the said election directly from the polling units to the 1st Respondent’s Collation System.
“Contrary to the above unambiguous representations, undertakings and guarantees, the 1st Respondent neither deployed the electronic transmission of election results nor the electronic collation system in the said election, sabotaging the ra/son d’etre for the enactment of the new Electoral Act 2022 and the introduction of the technological innovations.
“Rather than hold the 1st Respondent (INEC) as a public institution accountable to the representations that it made pursuant to its statutory and constitutional duties, which created legitimate expectation on the part of the Appellant’s, the lower court wrongly exonerated the 1st Respondent of any responsibility by holding that the use of the technological innovations to guarantee transparency was not mandatory.”
In a similar vein, Obi and the LP claimed in their appeal, submitted on September 19 through lead attorney Dr. Livy Uzoukwu, SAN, that the lower tribunal’s verdict was “perverse” overall with the exception of the rulings that supported them.
“The learned Justices of the court below erred in law and thereby reached a wrong conclusion, when they found and held they did not in their petition specify the particular polling units where the alleged irregularities and malpractices occurred, or specified the figures of the votes or scores which they alleged have been suppressed, deflated or inflated.”
The appellants said that the spreadsheets and forensic analysis reports, which they had included and referenced in their filings, held the polling unit details.
Obi and LP contended in a further ground of appeal that the court below’s striking out of specific paragraphs in their petition amounted to a flagrant denial of their right to a fair hearing and caused a serious miscarriage of justice.
As a result, the appellants contended that the tribunal erred in rejecting the sworn statements of ten of the thirteen witnesses that the petitioners had called, on the grounds that the statements were submitted beyond the legally mandated 21-day window.
Obi and LP contend that the Supreme Court and Court of Appeal rulings, which the PEPC cited to support its ruling, did not apply to the facts of the case they had brought. They further assert that in reaching the aforementioned decision, the tribunal disregarded numerous precedents it had previously established, to the effect that a subpoenaed witness was not required to file his statement with the petition and that any such statement filed after the deadline for filing the petition was legitimate and competent.
Obi and LP argued that the court below should have read the petition in its entirety to ascertain the appellants’ complaint or grievance, in response to the tribunal’s position that they did not call enough witnesses to support allegations of corrupt practices and other irregularities.
The Appellants’ Petition included a list of the States and particular locations they were complaining about, which the Court below neglected to consider. Additionally, the appellants filed paperwork in accordance with Section 137 of the Electoral Act of 2022, according to their statement.
The appellants further contended that the INEC’s non-compliance with its laws, guidelines, and pertinent statutes was a universal complaint because it was an offense against the Nigerian people and the Nigerian state, and that the tribunal’s ruling that the appellants’ failure to call witnesses from the polling units, wards, or other locations where irregularities and malpractices were allegedly committed was fatal to their case.
Regarding the topic of technology in the general election of 2023, they contended that the tribunal had misunderstood the significance of technology in the poll’s conduct for the election’s transparency, credibility, and integrity.
However, they contended that, in contrast to the tribunal’s ruling, the current legal framework, which is governed by the Electoral Act of 2022, required the use of BVAS to transmit the election results to IReV and was not optional.
However, the APM said that the lower court misinterpreted the relevant circumstances when it rejected its undefended petition challenging Tinubu’s victory, and as a result, it sought the nullification of the tribunal’s ruling.
The petition requested that the Supreme Court rule that Kabiru Masari’s withdrawal from the race amounted to an automatic withdrawal and invalidation of Tinubu’s candidacy in the presidential election scheduled for February 25, 2023. It further stated that it was incorrect to strike out Masari, the fifth respondent, from the petition and to dismiss it on September 6, 2023, since Masari was an essential party to the dispute.
According to Section 134(1)(a) of the Electoral Act of 2022, “the petition was based on the fact that the third respondent (Tinubu) was not eligible to contest the election on February 25, 2023,” the APM said.
But now that all respondents in the various appeals have responded, along with the appellants’ point-of-law reply, the cases are scheduled for hearing on Monday.
The highest court in the land has sixty days by law to hear appeals and render a decision. The notice of appeal was filed on September 18, and the 60-day period began on that date and ended on November 16, 2023.
However the outcome is decided, the 2023 presidential election will undoubtedly come to an end.
Shaibu: Tinubu Desires to Halt FBI File Publication
Phrank Shaibu, the Special Assistant on Public Communication for former Vice President Atiku Abubakar, has criticized President Bola Tinubu ahead of this month’s scheduled release of documents on him by the US Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI). The president has made repeated attempts to obstruct the disclosure of the specifics of his criminal investigation by US authorities.
Earlier this week, Bola A. Tinubu’s attorneys in the United States filed motions to appear in a continuing FOIA action against the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) and Central Intelligence Agency (CIA), the home of records that could shed light on the real identity of the politician and his decades-long pursuits.
The motion, dated October 18, 2023, was filed by Christopher Carmichael, one of the attorneys who defended Tinubu in the recent Chicago State University (CSU) documents case. In it, he claimed to be a lawyer in good standing to appear in the FOIA action that is currently taking place in Washington, D.C.
However, in response to the news, Atiku’s assistant said Tinubu was unfit to be in charge of more than 200 million people given his repeated efforts to conceal information about his scandalous background.
“I believe it’s time for all Nigerians to take this man—if Bola A. Tinubu is his real name—very seriously and voice their concerns. Claim: Some members of the Tinubu family, led by the former Head of Service of Lagos State, Rafiu Tinubu, denied knowing him.
“He has now remained silent about the primary and secondary schools he attended, and he has refused to reveal the identity of his father or even his past. Some of the institutions he attended denied him. When he was being investigated for drug trafficking, he remained silent about the specifics of the settlement he reached with US officials. He has gone ahead and attempted to obstruct the attempt to divulge the actual information of the criminal inquiry.
“During the electioneering, his surrogates, led by Mr. Festus Keyamo, claimed that the drug inquiry that was initiated against him in 1992 had to do with taxes. If that’s the case, then why can’t he allow the FBI to release the documents? This is really dishonorable.
The adviser to Atiku urged US officials to consider themselves as Nigerians’ only hope, given that the majority of Nigerian courts had shut down any efforts to bring Bola A. Tinubu to light.
“Tinubu is a corn-man,” he continued. He has been able to mislead Nigerians by concealing his past. Regretfully, the courts have thwarted every effort by well-meaning Nigerians to bring him to light. He has dominated Lagos State as Lord of the Manor for decades, but the government has declined to comply with FOI demands.
“Nigerians are now looking up to US authorities to do the needful so that they can, at least, have the true information on the man, who is presiding over their lives. We call on American authorities not to be persuaded by this corn-man. Enough is enough! His criminal files must be released.”