Election Petition tribunal right to dismiss Atiku’s petition, says Supreme Court
The Supreme Court said on Friday that the issue of President Muhammadu Buhari’s qualifications to contest February 23, 2019 election that formed the main objection in the appeal filed by Atiku Abubakar was a Constitutional issue and that Buhari was eminently qualified to contest.
The Apex Court stated this in it’s explanation on the reasons it adduced for October 30 decision, dismissing the appeal filed by Atiku Abubakar and Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) that challenged the judgment of the Presidential Election Petition Tribunal
In a unanimous judgment prepared by the Chief Justice of Nigeria , Justice Ibrahim Tanko Muhammad, and read by Justice John Okoro, the Supreme Court said that the qualifications for a person seeking to contest the position of the president of Nigeria were clearly stated in Section 131 of Constitution .
The Supreme Court said that President Buhari was eminently qualified haven meant the requirements stipulated in Section 131 (d) of the Constitution that provides that an aspirant to the position of president should be educated to the secondary school level or primary six and have served in the public service for ten years and attend training , with ability to read and write in English Language and any other qualifications acceptable to the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC).
The court said that Buhari primary School certificate, certified copy of his Cambridge certificate, certified copy of his West African School Certificate (WASC), his group photograph of Katsina Secondary School and commandation letter from the Commandant of US war college for the then Major Muhammadu Buhari as well as his long service in public service two years of which he served as military Head of State and four years as President had suffice for the qualification requirement. He said that the provisions are accorded it ordinary meaning adding that an aspirant who possessed any of the qualifications stipulated in the section suffice.
Justice Muhammadu also held that neither the Constitution nor the electoral act require the respondent to attach certificate to INEC nomination form CF 001.
On the variation in the name between Mohamed Buhari as contained in the certificates and Muhammadu Buhari which he presently bear, the court agreed with the the finding of the lower court that the names referred to same person and resolved issues one and two in favour of Buhari.
On issue three , which deal with whether Buhari scored the lawful votes cast at the election , Justice Muhammadu also agreed with the findings of the lower court that fact obtained from “www.fact don’t lie.ng Website” can not be relied upon as it does not belong to INEC .
He said the lower court was right to have rejected the votes obtained from the website which formed the case of the appellants.”I am satisfied with the findings of the lower court which did not attach any probative value on the evidences of PW 59 and PW 60.” This is issue is resolve in favour of the respondent.
On issue four, that the election was not in compliance with the electoral Act , the Supreme Court said that the appellant failed to call witnesses that actually witnessed the election . The appellants only called five poll agents as witness across the country with over 250,000 polling units.
The appellant also failed to tender the voter register. They tendered and dumped voluminous documents on court without calling the makers of the said documents to speak to the documents.
Justice Muhammadu also found that the lower court was right to have not attach any probative values on the documents that was tendered from the bar. It is not the duty of the justices to speculate or fish out what the documents were all about.
Justice Muhammadu further held that from the totality of the evidences and exhibits the appellants could not prove the monumental allegations of corrupt practice. The issue was also resolved against the appellant.
On issue five , which questioned the lower court admission of Buhari’s photocopy examination result as an exhibits, when the lawyer through who they were tendered was not the makers , the court said that the documents were properly admitted and witnesses testified on them.
The appellants and their counsel on Friday boycutted the court session. Dr. Alex Izinyon (SAN), who led President Buhari defence team sought to know whether the court sent them hearing notice.
Justice John Okoro confirmed that the appellants were served with hearing notice on Wednesday.
He said the Court would go on ahead to give its reasons for the decision despite the appellant absence.
Felix Omohomhion, Abuja