Legal fireworks as Atiku, Obi commence last battle to unseat Tinubu at Supreme Court

Tinubu, Atiku and Obi

File Photo: President Tinubu, Atiku and Obi

Contentions over Nigeria’s February 25 2023 presidential election results will get to its ‘final bus stop’ today as the Supreme Court begins hearing of the appeal filed against the petitions of Atiku Abubakar and Peter Obi, the candidates of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and the Labour Party (LP) respectively seeking to upturn the declaration of President Bola Ahmed Tinubu of All Progressives Congress, APC as the winner of the poll.

Both men had failed in their earlier attempt to upturn the victory of Tinubu in the election at the Presidential Election Petition Court, PEPC, the court of first instance in dispute over the outcome of the election of Nigeria’s president

The Supreme Court had constituted a seven-member panel – Justices Uwani Musa Abba Aji, Emmanuel Agim, Lawal Garba, Helen M. Ogunwumiju, Ibrahim Musa Saulawa , Adamu Jauro and Tijjani Abubakar – to hear the appeal of Atiku and Obi over the PEPC judgment.

The justices of the court have till November 6 to deliver judgment on all the appeals.

According to the results declared by the Independent National Electoral Commission, Tinubu polled 8.8 million votes to defeat Atiku and Peter Obi, who scored 6.9 million and 6.1 million, respectively, to win Nigeria’s February 25 presidential election.

However, Atiku and Obi rejected the results.

They were joined by the Allied Peoples Movement (APM) which did not make any appreciable impact in the election but want the result to be annulled over claims that the running mate of the APC presidential candidate, Kashim Shetimma was not validly nominated.

The three parties had consequently filed petitions at the PEPC, seeking nullification of declaration of Tinubu as the winner of the February 25 presidential election.

But Atiku, Obi and APM were disappointed as the PEPC, dismissed the three petitions and affirmed the victory of the President in a unanimous judgment delivered on September 6.

The Justices of the PEPC, in a unanimous decision asserted that the three petitioners failed to prove their assertions that the election that produced President Tinubu was marred with malpractices or claim that he was not qualified to contest the election.

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However, in the appeals that the apex court will begin to hear today, Monday, 23 October, Atiku, Obi and the APM are challenging the PEPC judgement.

The two candidates had asked the apex court to set aside the PEPT ruling and nullify Tinubu’s election.

Atiku hinged his appeal against the PEPC judgment on 35 grounds while Obi faulted the September 6 judgment on 51 grounds.

The apex court will also hear the appeal by the APM.

In addition, the Supreme Court will also hear a motion by Atiku seeking to bring fresh evidence to prove that Tinubu submitted a forged certificate to the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to contest the election.

Atiku had sought to tender the academic records of Tinubu, handed over to him by the Chicago State University on Monday, October 2 on the order of Judge Nancy Maldonado of the District Court of Illinois, Eastern Division, Illinois, United States of America.

Tinubu had in his response asked the apex court to reject the application by Atiku to introduce fresh evidence in his appeal of the PEPC judgment.

The President said Atiku’s application was alien to the pending appeal before the Supreme Court because it does not arise from the record or the judgment of the tribunal.

The president had also asked the Supreme Court to dismiss the entire appeals filed by Obi, Atiku and APC against the September 6 PEPC judgment and instead, affirmed his victory in the February 25 election.

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