All eyes will be at the Supreme Court today as the final legal battle to unseat President Bola Tinubu will begin following the listing for hearing the election petition appeal filed by former vice-president Atiku Abubakar, the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) standard bearer in the February presidential poll.
The Supreme Court Registrar, Zainab Garba, in a notice issued to the parties last Thursday Thursday, disclosed that the hearing proceedings in Atiku’s appeal would take place before the Supreme Court sitting in Abuja today.
Atiku, had approached the presidential election tribunal to nullify the February 25 election in which the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) declared Tinubu winner.
The tribunal, however, dismissed the petitions filed by Atiku and Obi for lacking in merit and unanimously upheld Tinubu’s electoral victory.
The tribunal panel led by Justice Haruna Tsammani in their judgement had held that the documentary and oral evidence presented before them could not prove act of irregularities amongst other claims for which Atiku has asked the court to void Tinubu’s victory.
Dissatisfied with the verdict of the lower court, Atiku and Obi appealed the verdict at the Supreme Court.
In his 35 grounds of appeal filed by his lead counsel, Chris Uche, SAN, former vice-president Atiku faulted the tribunal’s ruling on electronic transmission of results, Tinubu’s qualification for the election, Federal Capital Territory votes, among others.
He prayed the apex court to set aside the judgment of the lower court.
In his quest to overturn Tinubu’s election, the PDP candidate also sought the Supreme Court’s permission to file the President’s academic records obtained from his alma mater, Chicago State University, as ‘’fresh and additional evidence’’ to support his appeal challenging the outcome of the disputed poll.
The former vice-president in his application filed on October 5, was seeking the court’s nod to present a deposition on oath of the CSU Registrar, Caleb Westberg, concerning Tinubu’s academic records.
The appellant had questioned the authenticity of the President’s CSU certificate submitted to the INEC, alleging forgery of the document, arguing that he was not qualified to contest the election.
Read also: Supreme Court appoints panel to hear Atiku, Obi’s appeal against Tinubu
The lead counsel to the President, Wole Olanipekun SAN, said last week that Tinubu’s legal team had been notified about the hearing of the appeals by the apex court.
“We just got a hearing notice from the Supreme Court that the hearing of the appeal is on Monday. There is no pre-hearing in appeal, we don’t have anything like pre-hearing in appeal.
“It’s a hearing of appeal. The Supreme Court doesn’t list cases for mention, the appeal is for hearing on Monday,” he said.
He had earlier said that they had filed all the papers that they needed to file on behalf of their client.
Just like the case at the Court of Appeal which generated unprecedented interest, the hearing at the apex Court is also expected to draw keen interest across the country among Nigerians.
Observers say it is because of large number of first time voters. Many people would be following processing in the media, since it would not be televised live.
Speaking recently on his decision to go to the Supreme Court, Atiku said that at the beginning of the legal battle when he instructed his lawyers to file a petition challenging the outcome of the presidential election, his ultimate goal in the pursuit was to ensure that democracy is further strengthened through the principles and processes of fair hearing.
According to Atiku, “The last presidential election in our country and the way it was managed by the electoral umpire, the Independent National Electoral Commission, leaves behind unenviable precedents, which I believe the courts have a duty to redress.
“Our gains in ensuring transparent elections through the deployment of technology was heavily compromised by INEC in the way it managed the last presidential election, and I am afraid that the judgement of the court, as rendered by the Presidential Election Petition Tribunal yesterday, failed to restore confidence in our dreams of free and fair elections devoid of human manipulations.”
He went on: “I take great pains to tell you that the decision of the court of first instance on this matter utterly falls far short of that expectation. I am therefore here to tell you that, though the judgment of the court yesterday is respected, it is a judgment that I refuse to accept.
“I refuse to accept the tribunal judgment because I believe that it is bereft of substantial justice. However, the disappointment in the verdict of the court can never destroy my confidence in the judiciary”.