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Tinubu, Atiku, Obi Await Supreme Court Judgment Today

The Supreme Court is set to announce its decision today, just 72 hours after hearing two appeals challenging President Bola Tinubu’s election victory. This judgment will mark the conclusion of the legal disputes surrounding the 2023 presidential election. Both the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) presidential candidate, Alhaji Atiku Abubakar, and his Labour Party (LP) counterpart, Mr. Peter Obi, remain confident of their chances for victory.

Previously, Justice John Okoro, leading a panel of seven Supreme Court justices, had stated that the judgment for the presidential election litigations would be reserved. This announcement followed the adoption of processes by lawyers representing the parties involved in the appeals.

A notice issued to the parties yesterday has confirmed the judgment date to be today, October 26, 2023. The Supreme Court has acted quickly in delivering judgment, as they have a legal limit of 60 days to hear and decide on appeals against the presidential election tribunal’s judgment. This judgment is being delivered 10 days before the November 5, 2023 deadline.

According to Section 285(5)(6)(7) of the 1999 Constitution, as amended, a petitioner has 21 days to file their election petition from the date the election results were announced. The tribunal, on the other hand, is required to deliver its written judgment within 180 days from the date the petition was filed, while the Supreme Court has a 60-day limit for the same.

INEC declared Tinubu as the winner of the presidential election on March 1, and Atiku and Obi subsequently filed their petitions on March 21. The tribunal delivered its judgment on September 6, bringing the 60-day limit for the Supreme Court to November 5.

The two appeals scheduled for judgment are those of Atiku and the PDP, and Obi and the LP. The third appeal filed by Allied People’s Movement (APM) was dismissed by the Supreme Court during Monday’s proceedings after being withdrawn by the party’s lead counsel, Mr. Chukwuma Machukwu-Ume.

In their petitions, the appellants sought to challenge the tribunal’s judgment, which had dismissed their separate petitions against the February 25 presidential election for lacking in merit. Atiku presented 35 grounds of appeal, arguing that the tribunal erred in concluding that his case lacked merit, while Obi presented 51 grounds to prove the lower court’s judgment was flawed.

During Monday’s proceedings, Atiku, represented by Chief Chris Uche, and Obi, represented by Dr. Livy Uzoukwu, urged the court to allow their separate appeals and nullify Tinubu’s election.

Earlier, Atiku had moved an application to present fresh evidence of forgery against Tinubu, emphasizing the importance of the evidence due to its constitutional and democratic implications. This fresh evidence consisted of academic records of Tinubu, provided by the Chicago State University (CSU) on October 2, after a court order in the United States. Atiku argued that submitting forged documents to INEC was a grave constitutional matter and called on the Supreme Court to consider it on its merit rather than technicalities.

The respondents, however, urged the court to reject the appeals and uphold the presidential election tribunal’s judgment that validated Tinubu’s election.

After adopting their processes, the Supreme Court reserved judgment in the two appeals and dismissed the appeal of APM, citing the need to avoid redundancy in reviewing the matter.

PDP and LP Remain Confident in Judiciary
Both Atiku and Obi expressed their confidence in the judiciary’s ability to deliver justice. Kehinde Edun, National Legal Adviser of the Labour Party (LP), stated that they expected a favorable outcome, citing the Supreme Court’s rule to accept fresh evidence when it is compelling. He also emphasized that Nigerians trust the judiciary to uphold justice.

The PDP, through its National Publicity Secretary, Hon. Debo Ologunagba, expressed its hope that the Supreme Court would apply the law and the Constitution to deliver justice in the matter. Nigerians are optimistic that the judiciary, as the last hope of the common man, will dispense substantial justice according to the law and facts in the appeal.

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