Monday Ubani, former Chairman of the Section of Public Interest and Development Law (SPIDEL), Nigerian Bar Association (NBA), says it will be difficult for the Supreme Court to admit fresh evidence in the appeal of the judgment of the presidential election petition tribunal.
Ubani said this on Channels Television’s Sunrise Daily on Thursday.
Ubani was reacting to the case initiated in the United States by the People’s Democratic Party’s (PDP) presidential candidate in the 2023 election, Atiku Abubakar, where he requested for the release of President Bola Tinubu’s certificate from the Chicago State University with the suspicion that the certificate the President submitted to the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) may not be authentic.
He noted that admitting fresh evidence was rare and could only be taken in special circumstances.
“Looking at the facts surrounding it, the admissibility of fresh evidence by the appellate court is very rare, especially if that evidence was available to you while you were initiating the process.
“The Supreme Court will never, even the Court of Appeal, admit fresh evidence because their job is to review the court’s decision below and not to evaluate any evidence now.
“They don’t take any evidence, but there are special circumstances under which the appellate court can admit fresh evidence, and that ground is maybe by the time you file the case that evidence was unavailable,” Ubani said.
President Tinubu had, through his lawyers, resisted Atiku’s demand for his records to be released. Still, the US court eventually ordered CSU to release the President’s academic records to Atiku, who had told the court he needed them for his appeal in the Supreme Court.
Ubani said it will take a lot from Atiku’s legal team to convince the Supreme Court to admit fresh evidence in the appeal of the election tribunal judgment, as the apex court will only be reviewing the lower court’s decision.
The senior lawyer noted that Atiku’s legal team will be challenged by Tinubu’s team on the admissibility of fresh evidence, adding that the court may be left to use its discretionary power to decide whether or not to admit fresh evidence in the case.
“The admissibility of fresh evidence is very critical. You must convince, and the other party will oppose whoever is bringing it. So, the court now exercises discretionary power in either admitting or not allowing that fresh evidence to come in,” he said.
Affirming Tinubu’s election on September 6, the tribunal held that the petitioner, the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) and its flag bearer, Atiku Abubakar, did not successfully prove the allegations against this ground and indeed all the grounds in their petition.