The supreme court has dismissed the appeal filed by presidential candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Atiku Abubakar, against President Muhammadu Buhari’s election victory.
After about five hours of sitting on Wednesday, the apex court held that the appeal by the PDP presidential candidate lacked merit.
A seven-man panel of the court held that the reasons for the judgement would be given on a later date.
The PDP candidate suffered his first loss when the apex court rejected his plea to allow him to adopt all the briefs filed.
Levi Uzoukwu, Atiku’s lead counsel, had requested that all lawyers adopt their briefs, both in the main appeal and in seven other interlocutory appeals.
“We apply that all the briefs in this appeals be adopted so that at the end of the day, this court will take its decision on the matter,” he said.
But the panel turned down the request. It held that the main appeal covers the interlocutory appeals as well.
Chief justice of Nigeria (CJN), Tanko Mohammed, said after examining the arguments from the parties to the case, that the panel concluded that the appeal lacks merit.
“We have examined the submissions of parties in this matter and the exhibit adduced and we have come to a conclusion that this appeal lacks merit, appeal is hereby dismissed,” he said.
Atiku and the PDP filed the appeal before the apex court after the presidential election petition tribunal dismissed their case for also lacking merit.
Atiku challenged the victory of Buhari, who was declared winner of the election by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), on the grounds that he allegedly lacked the necessary qualifications to contest for president and that the APC candidate was defeated in the election.
The variation in the spelling of Buhari’s name was brought to the fore again in the case filed by Atiku. This time, Uzoukwu insisted that the second respondent (Buhari) failed to prove he is the owner of a certificate tendered as an exhibit.
He said the APC candidate failed to give any explanation for the discrepancy in his first name “Muhammadu”, and that which appeared in the exhibit, “Mohamed,” and that the tribunal was wrong to have speculated without evidence that the second respondent also bears “Mohamed”.
But Wole Olanipekun, Buhari’s counsel, opposed his argument. He argued that the PDP counsel had a similar case at the appellate court, but that it was overlooked.
He said while Uzoukwu was called to the bar by the name, ‘Levinus Onyemachi Uzoukwu’, he uses only ‘Levi Uzoukwu’ and so, he cannot question Buhari’s own case.
He also said the variation in Buhari’s name depends on the persons pronouncing it.
The PDP counsel argued that Buhari was not qualified for the election because he allegedly failed to tender any of the certificates he said he acquired.
He said none of Buhari’s witnesses gave evidence as to what the certificates look like.
But the president’s counsel countered his argument. He said the Nigerian constitution does not mandate a presidential candidate to attach his certificates as evidence of qualification.
On server, Uzoukwu said section 52(2) of the electoral act which INEC relied upon in rejecting the use of sever has been amended and deleted from the electoral act, and so, the argument is baseless.
But Yunus Usman, INEC lead counsel, asked the court to dismiss Uzoukwu’s submission, saying the amendment only states that INEC has discretion on how to transmit election results.
In the same breath, Buhari’s lawyer said the court of appeal did not agree that there was a server contrary to the appellant’s submission, and that the conclusion is that, “there was a website managed and controlled by INEC”.
Usman also said PDP’s argument on polling units lacked merit because they failed to call witnesses as required by the law.
The INEC counsel said the party called only five polling agents across the 191,000 polling units in the presidential election, whereas “the law requires that a polling agent must be called to testify from each of the polling units across the country”.