Atiku Abubakar, the Peoples Democratic Party’s (PDP) nominee for president in 2023, has argued for the Supreme Court to accept new evidence he has against President Bola Tinubu.
Atiku claims that the supreme court should not reject his opportunity to present new evidence regarding the petition against Tinubu from Chicago State University (CSU), as it will support his argument that the All Progressives Congress (APC) candidate was ineligible to run for president in 2023.
The PDP candidate made the argument in a response to the point of law he filed to address President Tinubu’s, the Independent National Electoral Commission’s (INEC), and the APC’s concerns about the acceptability of papers made available to him by the Chicago State University in the United States of America.
He continued by saying that in addition to showing that Tinubu was unable to run for office, it would also demonstrate that the former governor of Lagos State had engaged in certificate fraud.
Recalls on Anaedoonline.ng In accordance with the directive of Judge Nancy Maldonado of the District Court of Illinois, Eastern Division, Illinois, United States of America, Atiku was granted access to a 32-page document from the CSU regarding Tinubu’s academic credentials.
Despite Tinubu’s protests, the US court had ordered the CSU to provide Atiku access to the aforementioned materials.
However, several parties to the lawsuit, such as President Tinubu, INEC, and the APC, have argued that the Supreme Court cannot consider new evidence at this point in the proceedings.
However, Chris Uche (SAN) of Atiku’s legal team asserted that, in contrast to the respondents’ view, there is no such restriction.
“There is no such constitutional limit of 180 days on the lower court to hear and determine a presidential election petition, such that can rob this Honourable Court to exercise its power in any manner whatsoever.
“The parties are agreed that the Constitution is the fons et origo and the grundnorm, and supersedes any other legislation,” he argued.
In addition, Atiku argued that while tribunals were formed to handle election-related issues from Houses of Assembly, National Assembly, and gubernatorial elections, the Constitution only granted the Court of Appeal the authority to hear disputes from presidential elections.
“Thereafter, the Constitution was intentional and deliberate in setting the 180 days limit only for Election Tribunals, and not for the Court of Appeal. On the other hand, when it came to appeals, the Constitution clearly and expressly extended same to the Court of Appeal.
“The Constitution clearly excluded Court of Appeal in the preceding subsection,” he submitted.
Atiku added that the Presidential electoral plea Court, PEPC, which heard and rejected his plea, was not an electoral tribunal in accordance with Section 285 of the 1999 Constitution, as amended.
He argued that section 285(6) of the Constitution, which excludes the Court of Appeal, limits the use of the 180 days to electoral tribunals only.
“On the other hand, when it came to the next subsection, namely Section 285(7), they intentionally included and mentioned Court of Appeal.
“The trite maxim, My Lords, is “expressio unius est exclusio alterius”, meaning that the express mention of one thing in a statutory provision automatically excludes any other which otherwise would have been included by implication.
“Furthermore, when granting jurisdiction to the Court of Appeal to entertain presidential election petitions, the Constitution did not pretend that it was conferring the jurisdiction on a “tribunal”; it clearly gave the jurisdiction to the Court of Appeal. Thus, section 239(1) of the Constitution specifically provides thus:-
“Subject to the provisions of this Constitution, the Court of Appeal shall, to the exclusion of any other court of law in Nigeria, have original jurisdiction to hear and determine any question as to whether – (a) any person has been validity elected to the office of President or Vice President under this Constitution.”
Uche added that the Constitution only mentioned “Court of Appeal” and left out “tribunal” when giving the Supreme Court the authority to hear appeals arising from rulings in presidential election petitions.
The Supreme Court must have jurisdiction to hear and decide appeals from the Court of Appeal, to the exclusion of any other court of law in Nigeria, according to Section 233 subsections (1) and (2)(e)(i) of the Constitution, which he referenced.
“An appeal shall lie from decisions of the Court of Appeal to the Supreme Court as of right in the following cases – (e) decisions on any question – (i) whether any person has been validly elected to the office of President or Vice President under this Constitution”.
He continued by saying that the Presidential Election Petition Court itself had administratively rejected to be referred to as the “Presidential Election Petition Tribunal” and instead preferred to be known as the “Presidential Election Petition Court” based on the aforementioned facts.
“The case is not whether 2nd Respondent attended Chicago State University, but whether he presented a forged certificate to the INEC.
“That at the trial, a National Youth Service Corps, NYSC, certificate with serial number 173807 presented by the 2nd Respondent to the 1st Respondent was equally tendered by the Appellants/Applicants at the trial as “EXHIBIT PBD 1A” with the name Tinubu Bola Adekunle, which is annexed herewith as EXHIBIT-J,” Atiku added.
According to Anaedoonline.ng, the Supreme Court has scheduled Monday, October 23, to hear Atiku’s appeal against Tinubu.
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