The Supreme Court is set to bring down the curtain on the legal disputes over the outcome of the 25 February presidential election, as it will, today, Thursday, deliver the final judgement on the two appeals challenging the victory of President Bola Tinubu at the disputed poll.
Atiku Abubakar of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), and Peter Obi of the Labour Party – the two leading opposition candidates at the election – had filed separate appeals to challenge the earlier 6 September verdict of the Presidential Election Petition Court which affirmed Mr Tinubu’s victory.
Today’s verdict will be the final court decision on the disputes over the election. It will mark the end of a two-stage judicial battle, the first part of which was decided by the presidential election court in favour of Mr Tinibu, which was further challenged at the Supreme Court. The court will now give the final say on the validity or otherwise of Mr Tinubu’s election.
Nigeria’s electoral commission, INEC, had declared Mr Tinubu the winner of the election on 1 March.
However, Atiku and Mr Obi, who came second and third, respectively, questioned INEC’s conduct of the polls; as they alleged widespread electoral fraud and the ineligibility of Mr Tinubu and Vice President Kashim Shettima to vie for the presidency.
A five-member panel of the Presidential Election Petition Court headed by Haruna Tsammani adjudicated the suits for three months before dismissing them on 6 September.
The court held that Atiku and Mr Obi failed to prove their separate claims against Mr Tinubu and INEC.
Dissatisfied, the pair headed to the Supreme Court, the final arbiter on presidential election dispute in Nigeria, where they urged the court to set aside the presidential election court decision on account of miscarriage of justice.
A seven-member panel of the Supreme Court headed by John Okoro heard Atiku and Mr Obi’s appeals on Monday, and set them down for judgement.
At the final hearing of the case on Monday, Atiku’s lawyer, Chris Uche tendered fresh evidence before the Supreme Court to prove his client’s case against the President. The Supreme Court will decide in its judgement today whether the fresh evidence, critical to Atiku’s case, is legally acceptable and can be reviewed as part of evidence submitted by a party.
Specifically, Atiku through his lawyer, Chris Uche, accused Mr Tinubu of forgery concerning the president’s academic records from the Chicago State University.
After a rigorous suit in the United States, Atiku obtained Mr Tinubu’s academic records which he has now filed at the Supreme Court to prove his forgery allegation which was rejected by the presidential election court, against Mr Tinubu.
On his part, Mr Obi’s lawyer, Livy Uzoukwu, urged the Supreme Court to nullify the presidential election court decision and declare Mr Obi the winner of the election.
However, the president’s lawyer, Wole Olanipekun, INEC’s lawyer, Abubakar Mahmoud, and APC’s Akin Olujinmi, asked the Supreme Court to dismiss the appeals and affirm Mr Tinubu’s victory.
The court subsequently fixed Thursday for judgement.