The Supreme Court has officially begun the hearing of appeals filed by the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Labour Party (LP), and Allied Peoples Movement (APM), all aimed at challenging the validity of President Bola Tinubu’s election.
Heading the panel of seven justices is Justice Inyang Okoro, who is joined by Justice Helen Ogunwumiju, Justice Ibrahim Saulawa, Justice Adamu Jauro, Justice Tijani Abubakar, Justice Emmanuel Agim, and Justice Lawal Garba.
Prominent figures in attendance include Abdullahi Ganduje, the National Chairman of the All Progressives Congress (APC); Julius Abure, the LP chairman; Femi Gbajabiamila, Chief of Staff to the President; Nuhu Ribadu, the National Security Adviser (NSA), and several other party members.
The central focus of the Supreme Court hearing is the motion presented by Atiku Abubakar, the PDP’s presidential candidate, in which he seeks to introduce fresh evidence supporting his claim that President Tinubu submitted a forged certificate to the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC).
Addressing the court on Monday, Chris Uche, Atiku Abubakar’s counsel, emphasized the gravity and constitutional significance of the certificate issue. He argued that the Supreme Court should consider the fresh evidence rather than invoking technicalities, asserting that the court has a duty to examine the certificate and make a decision.
Justice Inyang Okoro queried whether the Supreme Court should rely on the Electoral Act or the Constitution. Uche contended that the issue was fundamentally constitutional, requiring the court’s examination.
Justice Emmanuel Agim sought clarification on the nature of Atiku’s fresh documents and whether the testimony by the Chicago State University (CSU) Registrar was conducted in a court.
Regarding the conflicting letters from CSU, Justice Okoro noted the need for proof beyond reasonable doubt in criminal matters and asked Uche which letter the court should rely on. Uche referred to a letter issued to Michael Enahoro-Ebah, a lawyer who testified for Atiku, as supporting evidence.
INEC’s lawyer, Abubakar Mahmoud, urged the Supreme Court to dismiss Atiku’s application to introduce Tinubu’s academic records, while Wole Olanikpekun, counsel to President Bola Tinubu, asserted that fresh evidence is inadmissible at this point. Olanikpekun argued that CSU depositions are dormant until the deponent testifies in court, and he raised concerns about the 180-day statutory period for election petitions.
Akin Olujinmi, representing the APC, also contended that Atiku’s application lacks merit, asserting that documents cannot be introduced into the Supreme Court without first being presented at the trial court. Olujinmi emphasized that the burden lies with Atiku to justify the admission of fresh evidence.
The court temporarily adjourned and is scheduled to reconvene in five minutes.