Certificate: Atiku urges the Supreme Court to consider his fresh proof against Tinubu

    Alhaji Atiku Abubakar, the PDP presidential candidate, has asked the Supreme Court for permission to present what he calls new evidence in an effort to have President Bola Tinubu removed from office.

    According to Atiku’s motion, which was submitted by his legal team under the direction of Chief Chris Uche, SAN, the evidence he is requesting to present before the Supreme Court will support his claim that President Tinubu of the ruling All Progressives Congress, APC, submitted forged documents to the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, to help him qualify to run in the February 25 presidential election.

    Read also>>> INEC has withdrawn its case against the Kano Governorship Election Tribunal’s judgment.

    According to the former vice president, President Tinubu committed the crimes of forgery and perjury by what he did, and as a result, the Supreme Court should have removed him from office.

    In particular, Atiku asked the court for permission to submit Tinubu’s academic records, which he claimed were sent to him by Chicago State University on October 2, 2023.

    The motion states that the CSU disclosed the 32-page records in accordance with the directives of Judge Nancy Maldonado of the Eastern Division of the District Court of Illinois in Illinois, United States of America.

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    Atiku based his request for permission to present new evidence against Tinubu on Order 2, Rule 12(1) of the Supreme Court Rules 1985, Section 137(1) of the 1999 Constitution, as amended, as well as the supreme court’s inherent jurisdiction as stated in Section 6(6)(a) of the 1999 Constitution.

    Despite the fact that the application was submitted on October 5, Atiku’s legal team finished the filing procedure on Friday night.

    In essence, the PDP candidate asked the court to grant him permission “to produce and for the court to receive fresh and additional evidence by way of deposition on oath from Chicago State University for use in this appeal, to wit: the certified discovery deposition made by Caleb Westberg on behalf of Chicago State University on October 3, 2023, disclaiming the certificate presented by the 2nd respondent, Bola Ahmed Tinubu, to the Independent National Electoral commision.

    In addition, he requested that the top court “receive the said deposition in evidence as exhibit in the resolution of this appeal” and further issue any orders it may judge appropriate given the facts of the case.

    The application was supported by 20 grounds, one of which asserted that the deposition sought to be introduced and the papers it was to be accompanied by “would have important effect in the resolution of this appeal.”

    The deposition is pertinent to this matter because it established that the certificate presented by the second respondent to the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) did not come from Chicago State University, that whoever issued the certificate did not have the authority of Chicago State University, and that the second respondent never requested a replacement certificate or was given one by the institution.

    “The deposition, which was taken under oath and in front of the attorney for the second respondent, is trustworthy and believable and should be trusted.

    “The deposition is clear and unambiguous, and no additional supporting evidence is required,” the court ruled.

    “The evidence is such that it could not have been secured for use at the trial with due diligence, as the deposition necessitated that the lawsuit be filed in the United States of America before getting same. The aforementioned evidence could not be obtained prior to the trial before the lower court.

    Atiku asserted that the deposition was taken on October 3, 2023, following the conclusion of the trial at the lower court, and therefore was not available to be given at the trial.

    According to his argument, “the presentation of a forged certificate to the independent National Electoral Commission by a candidate for election to the office of President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, is a weighty constitutional matter, requiring consideration by the Courts as custodians of the Constitution.”

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    Atiku’s attorney, Uche, SAN, said that the Supreme Court had since received the original certified deposition from the CSU through a letter sent to the Chief Registrar of the court.

    In addition, a legal practitioner by the name of Uyi Giwa-Osagie claimed in a 20-paragraph affidavit attached in support of the appeal marked SC/CV/935/2023 with petition number: CA/PEPC/05/2023, that the certificate President Tinubu presented to INEC in support of his eligibility to run for president had previously been offered in evidence before the Presidential Election Petition Court, PEPC, and was designated as Exhibit PBDlB.

    In the appeal before the Supreme Court, the PEPC admitted a copy of the aforementioned certificate as Exhibit “E” and he attached a copy of that document.

    The identical document, according to Giwa-Osagie, was also submitted with the deposition in the United States, and at the trial, a certificate from Chicago State University was also offered as exhibit PBE4.

    He added the document as exhibit “G” as well.

    “That the deposition is a relevant piece of fresh evidence explaining the status of the certificate the 2nd Respondent presented to INEC in support of his qualification to contest the election,” Giwa-Osagie continued.

    The legal counsel for Atiku stated that they would depend on the already transmitted Record of Appeal for the Supreme Court hearing.

    Atiku’s attorney continued, “My Lords, we most humbly adopt the facts as presented in the supporting affidavit, and same will be referred to in the course of the argument,” stating that the supreme court has the authority, jurisdiction, and discretion to grant an application for new or additional evidence to be adduced on appeal.

    “Order 2 Rule 12 (7), (2), and (3) of the Supreme Court Rules state that: (1) A party who wishes the Court to hear testimony from witnesses (whether or not they were called at the trial) or to order the production of any document, exhibit, or other thing related to the proceedings in accordance with the provisions of Section 33 of the Act, shall apply for leave on or before the date specified in Order 2 Rule 12”

    It is not essential for the opposing party to object to the additional evidence that is intended to be presented, but if permission is granted, the opposing party is entitled to a fair opportunity to present his own evidence in rebuttal if he so chooses.

    “My Lords, we argue that the following criteria have been established by this Honourable Court in a number of decisions and must be met in order for applications to introduce new or extra evidence on appeal to be granted:

    “It must be shown that the evidence sought to be adduced in evidence could not have been obtained with reasonable diligence for use at the trial.

    “The fresh evidence must be such that if given, it would probably have an important effect on the result of the case, although it need not be decisive; and

    “The evidence must be such as is presumably to be believed, in other words it must be apparently credible,” Atiku’s lawyer, Uche, SAN, argued.

    Besides, he contended that in line with plethora of cases that were previously determined by the Supreme Court, the only requirement from the court was for it to do justice, fairly, equitably and justly.

    “We humbly submit that the grant of the present application will certainly be in furtherance of the course of justice in this matter.

    The Appellants/Applicants have challenged the election of the 2nd Respondent on the grounds of his eligibility to contest the said election and more specifically on the basis that the 2nd Respondent’s presented a forged document to the INEC. “This is a case in which the 2nd Respondent was returned purportedly as the winner of the said election to the office of the President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.

    The Appellants/Applicants also contested the striking out of their pleadings that raised the question of the 2nd Respondent’s eligibility to run for the stated office in their appeal.

    “The deposition from Chicago State University, which was not made available until after the case was decided by the lower Court, is required evidence to show that the certificate presented by the 2nd Respondent to the 1st Respondent in support of his eligibility to contest the said election is accurate.

    The aforementioned evidence has been made available and sent to this Honorable Court.

    “We contend that the appellants/applicants have adequately addressed the reasons for the delay and challenges encountered in acquiring the aforementioned evidence earlier than now, as well as the efforts taken to obtain the evidence and present it to this Honourable Court.

    “We submit that a successful proof of the said allegation will render the 2nd Respondent ab initio ineligible to have contested the said election in accordance with the provisions of Section 137(1)(j) of the Constitution, being a weighty matter of constitutional importance,” Uche, SAN, continued.

    He also claimed that the Supreme Court had ruled in Saleh v. Abah (2017) that anyone who had submitted a forged certificate to INEC should be automatically disqualified from all future elections if, as in this instance, a Court or tribunal finds the certificate to have been forged. It does not matter whether or not such fact is further fraudulently or desperately concealed in subsequent elections or declaration forms.

    “No decent system or polity should condone, or, through judicial policy and decisions, encourage, the dangerous culture of forging certificates with impunity to seek electoral contest.”

    According to Atiku’s team, “a weighty constitutional question” like the one brought up in the case against Tinubu is “comparable to a jurisdictional issue which is so fundamental and vital that it can be addressed at any time and in any manner in the course of the proceedings or on appeal.

    Atiku’s attorney said, “We ask that this honorable court would rule in favor of the Appellants/Applicants and grant this Application.

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