Buhari vs Atiku: Has Atiku Proven His Case?

NOT surprising at all, the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and its Presidential flag bearer in the February 23, 2019 Election, Alhaji Atiku Abubakar went to Court to challenge the victory of the All Progressives Congress and its flagship, President Muhammadu Buhari. Alhaji Atiku and his PDP filed 146 pages petition before the Presidential Election Petition Tribunal sitting at the Court of Appeal Complex, Abuja.

Alhaji Atiku and PDP alleged irregularities, non-qualification, violence, intimidation, bias on the part of Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) and outright rigging. The Petitioners pray jointly and severally against the Respondents as follows:- (a). That it may be determined that the 2nd Respondent was not duly elected by a majority of lawful votes cast in the said election and therefore the declaration and return of the 2nd Respondent by the 1st Respondent as the President of Nigeria is unlawful, undue, null, void and of no effect.

(b).That it may be determined that the 1st Petitioner was duly and validly elected and ought to be returned as President of Nigeria, having polled the highest number of lawful votes cast at the election to the office of the President of Nigeria held on 23rd February 2019 and having satisfied the constitutional requirements for the said election. (c). An order directing the 1st Respondent to issue Certificate of Return to the 1st Petitioner as the duly elected President of Nigeria. (d). That it may be determined that the 2nd Respondent was at the time of the election not qualified to contest the said election. (e). That it may be determined that the 2nd Respondent submitted to the Commission affidavit containing false information of a fundamental nature in aid of his qualification for the said election. IN THE ALTERNATIVE (f). That the election to the office of the President of Nigeria held on 23rd February 2019 be nullified and a fresh election ordered.

On their parts, INEC, Buhari, APC while challenging the petition Urged the tribunal to dismiss the petition, the three respondents to the petition, the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), President Buhari and the All Progressives Congress (APC) filed separate responses to counter the claims of the petitioners. The electoral body, in its response filed by its legal team led by Yunus Usman (SAN), applauded the conduct and outcome of the disputed polls as having been conducted in strict compliance with the Electoral Act. It further denied the existence of a central server for the purpose of downloading the results of the election, as alleged by the petitioners. President Buhari, on his part, denied supplying INEC false information about his academic qualification, while insisting that he was more qualified than Atiku to contest for election. He listed his educational qualifications in his resume as: “Elementary School, Daura and Maid’adua (1948-1952), Middle School, Katsina (1953-1956), Katsina Provincial Secondary School, now Government College, Katsina (1956-1961).” He maintained that he had not “at any time, provided any false information in Form CF001 submitted to the lst respondent, either in 2014 or 2018.

The affidavit of compliance to the 2019 Form CF001 was correct in every material particular.” According to his deposition filed by his lead counsel, Chief Wole Olanikpekun (SAN), Buhari averred that “he is far more qualified, both constitutionally and educationally, to contest and occupy the office of President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria than the 1st petitioner (Atiku); and that in terms of educational qualifications, trainings and courses attended, both within and outside Nigeria, he is head and shoulders above the 1st petitioner in terms of acquisition of knowledge, certificates, laurels, medals, and experience. “Respondent states further that it is the 1st petitioner who is not qualified to contest the office of President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.” He challenged the educational credentials and certificates of the 1st petitioner. “1st petitioner is hereby given notice to produce and tender his educational certificates, indicating the schools attended by him, with dates.”

In its submission too, the APC challenged Atiku’s qualification to contest the election. This position was predicated on the grounds that he (Atiku) was not a Nigerian by birth and was not qualified to contest the election by virtue of Section 131(a) of the Constitution. In its response filed by Lateef Fagbemi (SAN), its lead counsel, the party contended that Atiku “had no right to be voted for and returned in the election to the office of President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria held on Saturday 23 February, 2019, having regard to the clear provision of Section 131(a) of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria (CFRN) 1999 as amended, which unequivocally stipulates inter alia, that for a person to be qualified for election to the office of President, he must be a citizen of Nigeria by birth. “The 1st petitioner is not a citizen of Nigeria by birth and ought not to have even been allowed, in the first place, to contest the election. From available records, the 1st petitioner was born on the 25th November, 1946 in Jada, Adamawa, in Northern Cameroon, and is, therefore, a citizen of Cameroon. His father was Garba Atiku Abdulkadir, who died in December, 1957. Prior to 1919, Cameroon was being administered by Germany. But following the defeat of Germany in World War I, which ended in 1918, Cameroon became a League of Nations mandate territory which was split into French Cameroons and British Cameroons in 1919. British Cameroons was administered by the British from neighbouring Nigeria. “In 1961, a plebiscite was held in British Cameroons to determine whether the people preferred to stay in Cameroon or align with Nigeria. While Northern Cameroon preferred a union with Nigeria, Southern Cameroon chose alignment with the mother country. The transition took place on June 1, 1961.

“It was as a result of that plebiscite that Northern Cameroon, which included Adamawa, became a part of Nigeria, and by derivation, the 1st petitioner became a citizen of Nigeria, but not by birth. “The 1st petitioner, therefore, contrary to the assertion in Paragraph 1 of their petition, had no right to be voted for as a candidate in the election to the office of President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria held on 23rd February, 2019 across Nigeria,” it said. The party then urged the tribunal to hold that by reason of Atiku not being qualified to contest the election, all the votes purportedly cast for the petitioners at the 23 February, 2019 election and as subsequently declared by INEC on the 27th of February 2019, were wasted votes.

Proven his readiness to prosecute his petition, Atiku prayed the tribunal to grant him access to check the supposed INEC server, the tribunal declined. Pressed for evidence before the tribunal to ascertain the existence of the server, the petitioner produced a video clip showing Mike Igini, Resident Electoral Commissioner of Akwa Ibom State, speaking on a TV program of the possibility of INEC employing electronic transmission of results during the 2019 general elections; INEC countered during one of the tribunal sittings that Igini is not its spokesperson. The Petitioners listed about 400 witnesses to prove their petition and even went m ahead to generate results of the said election, purportedly from the INEC server in which the Petitioners won the 2019 election.

Interestingly, the erudite Prof. Ben Nwabueze (SAN) at the beginning of hearing made brief appearance at the tribunal for the petitioners. The constitutional lawyer who was wheeled into the courtroom urged the court to ensure justice and dwell less on technicality. In a prepared speech which was delivered to the tribunal, Nwabueze said: “The February/March 2019 general elections have come and gone, but the generality of Nigerians seem agreed that something was wrong with them, particularly the February presidential election. They suspect that the latter was manipulated or, in more familiar language, rigged. What is not known is how or by whom the rigging was done. An Election Tribunal/Court is now saddled with the task, an intractable task, of finding out the truth about what happened.” After his short stay in court, Nwabueze left behind Dr. Livy Uzoukwu (SAN) to carry on with the proceedings.

The Petitioners opened and closed their case by calling 62 witnesses out of the 400 originally listed in 10 days allotted to them to prove their case. It is now safe to assess the witnesses called thus far by the Petitioners to see if and if, they will be able to discharge the burden of prove placed on them by our electoral laws and jurisprudence. But before them, let me pose a very pertinent question, is 400 witnesses, taking into consideration our electoral laws and jurisprudence , enough to establish the case of the petitioners? subsequent discussion will provide answer to this question.

Conventionally, once a case is before the court or a legally and fittingly constituted tribunal, it is subjuidice to discuss facts of the litigious matter within the context of the law outside the courtroom. Thank goodness, I won’t be found wanting in this regard as I am neither a lawyer nor a worker in the temple of justice. Be that as it may, while this discuss is not meant to be another tribunal to adjudicate on the matter, it is not out of place to analyze some curious developments pertaining to Atiku’s presidential petition so far for the number of times the tribunal has sat. It is as dramatic as it has come. As earlier stated, the Petitioners called 62 witnesses from the 400 they listed. An assessment of the performance of the witnesses called thus far will show that the Peoples’ Democratic Party and Alhaji Atiku Abubakar are only chasing shadows at the tribunal.

During one of the trials, the Petitioners called one witness from Enugu State. The witness averred in his witness statement on oath before the tribunal that he did transmit the result of the election in the area he officiated to the INEC server with a code provided by INEC. But during cross-examination, the witness could not provide the code as he alleged that he left the code in his phone. The witness could not also state the name of the server he sent his result to. As the trials continue, we saw how the witnesses the Petitioners called were largely unable to substantiate their depositions during cross-examination. One Ambassador Madiel Samaki told the court under cross-examination that he knew Atiku was born on 25 November 1948 in Jada, present-day Adamawa state by Nigerian parents and is therefore a Nigerian by birth. He added that he also attended Provisional Secondary School in Yola, Adamawa State with Atiku in 1961. He however claimed that he was neither aware that Jada in Adamawa State, where Atiku was born, was at any time a part of Northern Cameroon nor that prior to 1919, Cameroon was being administered by Germany. He stated that to the best of his knowledge, Jada was in Northern Nigeria before 1946 and although he was in secondary school in 1961, he was not taught how Northern Cameroon became part of Nigeria. He also admitted not being present when Atiku’s mother gave birth to him.

Similarly, One Mohammed Kabir Kayatu also told the court that his deceased father told him that Atiku was born in Nigeria. Ali testified that a certain INEC Commissioner by name Abubakar Kaura accepted a bribe of Ten Thousand Dollars ($10,000.00) from an APC agent and that he made a verbal report of the incident to the Police about it but had no extract from the Police at the time of his testimony. Comrade Abubakar Sadiq Abdullahi admitted that there were over 517 Polling Units in his Local Government Area and he visited about 201 of them and spent approximately ten minutes at each one. This would have amounted to a total of thirty-three and half hours, even though he admitted that polling hours were between 8.00am and 5.00pm in most areas.

Indeed, on July 8, 2019, three of the petitioners’ witnesses—Peter Obi, Adejuyitan Olalekan and Adeokun Adeoye all claimed to have transmitted results to INEC server at the conclusion of the last presidential election, as claimed by the petitioners. Obi said he acted as Registration Area Technician (RATECH)/E Collation Officer, appointed by INEC and trained by INEC. He told the tribunal that he was in charge of supervising election in a ward and that his superiors were the Local Government Technician (LG TECH) and the State Technician (State TECH). Under cross-examination by Fagbemi, he said he could not remember the polling units where he worked during the election, and did not use smart card reader on the day of election. In his evidence before the tribunal, Olalekan, an INEC Presiding Officer during the election, introduced himself as a lecturer at the African Thinkers Community of Inquiry College of Education (ATCOI COE). He said he transmitted results to the INEC server, using a code provided by INEC. “The server is connected to the smart card reader,” he said. “I don’t not know the name and number of the server. The INEC server’s name is attached to the INEC server.” He said the election went well in his polling unit and that no incident of card reader malfunction was recorded.

On his part, Adeoye told the tribunal that he acted as an Assistant Presiding Officer (APO) during the election and that he transmitted results to INEC server. He could not recall the scores recorded by political parties in his polling unit. He also could not recall the number of political parties that contested the election. The witness who claimed to have transmitted results to INEC server, using card reader, said he did not provide particulars of the card reader, server code and the location of the said server in his written statement. He also said he could not recall them.

On July16, 2019, the trial opened with the cross examination of one Mr. Segun Sowunmi, media adviser to Atiku Abubakar and the one PDP referred to as ‘star witness” by the respondents. President Buhari showed the court a video clip of an interview granted to Channels Television by the INEC Chairman, Professor Mahmood Yakubu on 6 February 2019 wherein the latter gave reasons why the results of the 2019 elections would not be transmitted electronically. In the video, Professor Yakubu cited the problems of communication, poor network coverage and the challenge of cyber security as factors that would militate against electronic transmission of results. Sowunmi denied knowledge of the interview and claimed to have only listened to an interview where the Chairman had said electronic transmission of results is possible. Mind you, In the organogram of the Independent National Electoral Commission, the only person who can speak authoritatively on and about its activities in the public is the National Chairman or the spokesperson of the body or anyone the Chairman delegates his powers to. Against this background, according to INEC, Igini’s position is null, void and immaterial to the sustenance of the narrative around the fictitious server.

Another set of key witnesses called by the petitioners on July 19—Osita Chidoka and David Ayu Nyango Njoga—failed to substantiate their claim on the existence of a server. The two said they got information that INEC transmitted results of the last presidential election electronically to a server. Njoga was introduced by Uche as the petitioners’ expert witness. The witness proceeded to describe himself as an Information and Communications Technology (ICT) expert from Kenya. He noted that he was engaged by the petitioners to analyse results of the election as obtained from INEC server and stored in a website: www.factsdon’tlieng.com. When asked whether it is INEC who owns the website, the witness said no, but that the data it contained were from INEC’s server. Njoga, who said he had never worked in INEC, claimed that the website: “www. facts don’tlieng.com” was owned by an INEC official who provided the election result figures. When asked to name the said INEC official, the witness said: “My Lord, the INEC official is anonymous and I do not know him.” Under cross-examination by the leader of President Buhari’s legal team, Chief Wole Olanipekun (SAN), Njoga said the website was created on March 12, 2019. When reminded that the presidential election held on February 23 and the results released before March 12, the witness kept mute.

Under cross-examination by Fagbemi, Njoga stated that it was possible to access electronic server and alter data stored in it without the authority of the owner. Njoga, whose report of analysis was tendered before the court, said, with scientific knowledge, one can access any server without authorisation and alter the data stored in it. When asked to interpret some encrypted information in the report he submitted, the witness said he would require the authority of the INEC Chairman, who he claimed owned the server. WI’mhen asked if he obtained INEC Chairman’s authorisation before he did his first analysis, he said no, but that he used his scientific knowledge and skill. Fagbemi then asked if anyone could also use the scientific knowledge referred to by the witness in hacking into any server and manipulate the data, to which the witness said, yes.

Chidoka, an Aviation Minister under Goodluck Jonathan administration, who was introduced as the petitioners’ star witness, said he served as the PDP National Collation Officer during the last presidential election. He said he was at the PDP national situation room between February 22 and 24, 2019, during which time he interacted with senior INEC officials, including its Chairman, Prof Mahmood Yakubu, and his party’s agents nationwide. The man who confirmed that election results were collated nationwide manually, said he learnt the result of the election was “transmitted by INEC electronically to the INEC server.” While being cross-examined by Usman, Chidoka was unable to substantiate his claim, as contained in his written statement, to the effect that election results were transmitted to “the 1st respondent’s (INEC’s) server by the1st respondent’s officials. When asked if he witnessed the transmission, Chidoka said he was not present when the alleged electronic transmission was done. Asked whether he has ever seen the said server or knows its location, the witness said: “I have not seen the server, but before the election and during collation, the INEC Chairman talked about the existence of server.” Chidoka added that Yakubu spoke greatly about INEC’s readiness in relation to deployment of technologies for the conduct of the election, but said such deployment was subject to existing challenge of lack of legal backing for such deployment. When asked to provide the address of the said server, Chidoka said the one he referred to was the same address provided by the anonymous whistle-blower. The witness said he witnessed the manual collation of election results at the national level and was told by his party’s agents that collation was also manual at the state, ward and polling unit levels.

The man who claimed, in his written statement, that he knew as a fact that Atiku was born a Nigerian in 1945, said under cross-examination, he said he did not witness Atiku’s birth but only learnt about the information because he (Chidoka) was born in 1971. Under cross-examination by lawyer to President Mohammadu Buhari, Dr. Alex Izinyon (SAN), he admitted that he did not witness all he claimed happened during the election. The witness said he was at the PDP’s situation room throughout the election period, but received reports from his party’s agents across the country. He said the information contained in his four written statements were all from the reports given to him by his party’s agents across the country. When asked to produce copies of the results sheets in relation to where the alleged malpractices occurred, the witness said he had none. He also claimed not to have signed any result sheet in protest. Under cross-examination by lawyer to the APC, Yakubu Maikyau (SAN), Chidoka insisted that INEC Chairman spoke about his agency’s plan to deploy technologies for the election. He said he learnt that huge funds were budgeted for technology during the election and that INEC Chairman assured that the technology was available, but that they were constrained in deploying them because the law did not permit that.

Although the petitioners had planned to call about 400 witnesses, they could only call 62 while they tendered over 4000 documents within the 10 days allotted to them to conduct their case. INEC, Buhari, APC close case On Monday, July 29, 2019, the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) announced that it would not call any witness to defend the petition filed by the PDP and Atiku Abubakar when it was its turn to open its defence. Rather, counsel for the commission, Yunus Usman (SAN) told the tribunal that his client will rely on the evidence it obtained from the petitioners’ witnesses under cross- examination. When called upon to open its defence within the six days period allotted to it, Usman said there was no need calling witnesses to help the petitioners case. The lead counsel for the electoral body said it would not be necessary for the commission to call witnesses because the evidence extracted from the petitioners’ witnesses during cross-examination was in support of the commission’s case. He said, “We have painstakingly reviewed the evidence of petitioners’ witnesses. We have also painstakingly studied the petitioners’ evidence under cross-examination, which supports our defence and our denial in consonance with our pleadings. My lords, we do not see the need to waste your lordship’s precious time by repeating what their witnesses have repeated under cross-examination. In that circumstance, we will not call any witness to help them prove their case. We therefore, rely on the evidence of their witness under cross-examination.”

President Buhari took his turn on Tuesday, July 30, when he opened his defence with three key witnesses, including his Chief of Staff, Abba Kyari. Kyari mounted the witness box and admitted that no certificate was listed on the President’s curriculum vitae and that none was among the documents obtained from Cambridge University earlier tendered as exhibits. Before his evidence, however, Buhari had, through his lead counsel, Chief Wole Olanipekun (SAN), tendered 29 documents via the president’s first witness, Major General Paul Tarfa (retd), including certified true copies of certificates and results of Cambridge examinations which Buhari took in 1961. The documents include President Buhari West African Examination School Certificate, WAEC, which was tendered alongside a group photograph he took with his classmates at Provisional Secondary School Katsina State, in 1961, through his team of lawyers led by Olanipekun. Specifically, the second batch of eight documents comprised Cambridge Assessment International Certified Statement Of Results, West African School Certificate for President Buhari who Olanipekun said passed the exam in second grade in 1961.

Others were the collection receipt for the result, CTC of confidential result sheet of University of Cambridge West African School Certificate, 1961, photograph at Provincial Secondary School, Katsina, which showed Buhari with his classmates, group photographs of Form 6 students of his set in school, as well as printout of online news publication of January 22, 2015, with respect to the set. Olanipekun also tendered Certificate of Compliance for the documents as prescribed in section 24 of Evidence Act, and a letter of commendation from a Commandant of the US Army to General Akin Rinade on June 13, 1980, concerning President Buhari. But Atiku’s lawyer, Dr. Livy Uzoukwu, SAN, challenged admissibility of the documents. While objecting to them, he described the first set of documents as “very strange” adding that he would subsequently adduce reasons why the Buhari’s certificate which he said was never pleaded nor listed by the 2nd Respondent, lacked probative value.

The first witness, Major Gen. Tarfa, said he was a mate with the President in the Nigeria Army and that they were all enlisted on April 16, 1962. He said they were enlisted upon passing the examination and that they were taught in all the courses they attended in English. Under cross-examination by lawyer to the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), Yunus Usman (SAN), the witness said they were not asked to submit their certificates to the Nigeria Army. Usman: “You submitted all your school certificates to the Nigerian Army when you were enlisted?” Witness: “There was nothing of such.” On their part, the counsel representing INEC, Usman and APC, Lateef Fagbemi (SAN) did not object to the admissibility of the documents. Kyari, who was Buhari’s third defence witness, also admitted obtaining the Cambridge documents personally on July 18, 2019.

Answering questions put to him under cross-examination by the petitioners’ counsel, Kyari said he was 67-years-old and that he had known Buhari for nearly 40 years. He also told the tribunal that he signed for and collected the Cambridge documents for the assessment by Cambridge. He confirmed that none of the documents contained a certificate as the Cambridge documents were “assessments.” He also confirmed that the curriculum vitae signed by Buhari did not have any certificate listed, apart from the list of schools attended by the President. He admitted that the Diploma in Strategic Study which he claimed Buhari possessed was not listed in the President’s CV. Under cross-examination by APC’s lawyer, Lateef Fagbemi (SAN), Kyari, however maintained that Atiku was a Cameroonian by being born in Jadda in 1946, which as at the time was part of Northern Cameroon but now in Adamawa State. He also identified Buhari in a picture of those who were said to be the President’s classmates and teachers while graduating as a Class 6 pupil.

Before Kyari there was 77-year-old retired civil servant and President Buhari’s classmate, Suleiman Mai’ Adua, who sauntered into the courtroom clutching a picture frame showing 1961 graduates of Provincial Secondary School, Katsina, with the teachers and principal of the school. The witness who identified himself and Buhari in the group photograph also told the tribunal that the picture which was taken in 1961, also has former president of the Court of Appeal, Justice Abdullahi Umaru, who he said was their classmate. He told the tribunal, under cross-examination, that Buhari enlisted in the Nigerian Army in 1961. Mai’ Adua who admitted that pictures are not the same thing as certificates said he knows that Buhari has two certificates.

After calling seven witnesses, Buhari and his party, the APC, closed their defence. Making the announcement, his counsel, Olanikpekun said his team was satisfied with the seven witnesses they had led. He added that his client, having considered the totality of evidence before the tribunal, decided that there was no need to further waste the time of the court. “My lords, we have studied the hardware, software and even hardcopy of the petition and evidence presented by the petitioners, vis-à-vis the issues, which in our humble view, are in contention and evidence, that is, the issues that have been ventilated in this court and not outside,” he said. “We have come to the decision that it is time that we restrict the legal duel to the four corners of this Court. He further averred: “We are very satisfied with the evidence we have led and will be closing the case of the 2nd Respondent within the four walls of this Court, where we were trained to operate. I had indeed assured your lordships two days ago that when we start, there would be no going back.”

The APC was next to open its defence. However, on the day the president closed his case, the party announced that it was not calling any witness and accordingly closed its defence. Lead counsel for the APC, Lateef Fagbemi (SAN), told the tribunal that his team also found it unnecessary to call any witness. He told the tribunal: “In the normal course of events, it is the turn of the 3rd respondent to open its defence. I have ruminated over whether to talk now or later. I am eternally grateful to the petitioners for doing such a great work by providing us with the ammunition for defence. Having considered all the evidence, we believe there is no point in indulging in an over-kill exercise. In the circumstance, we will be closing our case. We, the 3rd respondent, announce that we are satisfied with the cross-examination and evidence proffered. In the circumstance, I, as leader of this team, announce the closure of the case of the 3rd respondent”. Claims and counter-claims.

Speaking after his analylsis of evidence adduced by the President in defence of the petition, counsel for the petitioners, Chief Uche (SAN), said the premature closure of defence by the respondents is not for any reason beyond the fact that the key witness produced rather than helping their matter threw spanner in its works. “The old man that came to testify on Buhari’s certificate said the Army never collected their papers,” he pointed out. “The WAEC/Cambridge man said the certificate the President is holding is not from them. Abba Kyari’s evidence goes to support our case that his principal does not have a certificate. The other witness brought a picture of the graduating set of the president and under cross-examination he was asked: “is there a different between picture and certificate”? He answered yes. The question was asked again: “can a picture stand in the place of certificate?’ He said no. In the eyes of the petitioners, that answer makes for a proof that the president does not have a certificate. “For me, the certificate issue is more than INEC server issue,” Uche said. “At the end of the day, it was discovered that no certificate was attached to Buhari’s INEC form, no qualification in the CV was tendered in court.

“INEC that conducted election did not call any witness to confirm that the election it conducted was credible,” he further averred. “APC did not call any witness to argue that the election it won was credible. Only Buhari called witnesses who did more damage than good to his case. Well, we have done our job as lawyers and we are confident that the tribunal will agree with our petition.”

On their part, the respondents held the view that they had made sufficient legal submissions to discountenance the case of the petitioners. Speaking for the respondents, Yunus Usman (SAN) was optimistic that the petitioners failed woefully to prove their case. “That is the reason why we did not call a single witness because doing so would amount to wasting precious judicial time of the court, based on the evidence of the petitioners’ witnesses under cross-examination. The petitioners’ witnesses helped our case and there was no need calling witnesses. Rather, we rely on the evidence under cross-examination”, he explained.

Both camps are confident of victory as both Buhari and Atiku are no strangers to the court. Buhari has gone to the election petition tribunal three times to challenge the outcome of the election won by former Presidents Olusegun Obasanjo, Goodluck Jonathan and late President Musa Yar’Adua, before eventually emerging as President. On his part, Atiku Abubakar wrestled his former principal, Olusegun Obasanjo in court between 2006 and 2007 and came out victorious at both the Court of Appeal and the Supreme Court. The Federal government under Obasanjo had declared the office of his Vice President ,Atiku Abubakar vacant on account of his defection from the then ruling Peoples Democratic Party to the Action Congress (AC). Consequently, his official privileges were withdrawn. Dissatisfied, Atiku headed to court and came out victorious. The two courts held that the president has no power under the constitution to declare the office of the vice-president vacant.

Meanwhile, the combatants have closed their case at the tribunal with each expressing confidence to emerge victorious.

To the almighty question again, can 400 witnesses prove allegations listed in the petition? The answer is, of course in the negative. Plethora of authorities have stated the standard of proof required to nullify a Presidential election. Even as the tribunal sitting continues, it is crystal clear to the discerning that the centrality of Atiku’s petition is his ability to prove the existence of the ghost server where he allegedly won the February 23 presidential election. If the morning tells what the day will look like, then there is nothing, even remote, to demonstrate that he will be able to prove that the server actually exists and it was used for the transmission of results during the election. The second leg of his petition- that Buhari does not have the minimal qualifications to participate in the election was already amputated by Supreme Court rulings recently, ruling it as pre-election matter.

The Supreme Court on Monday, September 2, 2019 dismissed a suit seeking the disqualification of President Muhammadu Buhari from the last presidential election for lying on oath. The court dismissed the suit shortly after it was withdrawn by the appellant’s counsel, Ukpai Ukairo, following hints that is was pointless going ahead with the case having been caught up by the Fourth Alteration to the 1999 Constitution. The appellants, Kalu Kalu, Labaran Ismail and Hassy El-Kuris, had approached the Apex court to nullify the candidacy of President Muhammadu Buhari in the 2019 Presidential Election over allegations that he lied under oath. They claimed that Buhari lied on oath in the form CF001 he submitted to INEC, for the 2019 election. However, during the court session on Monday, the five-member panel led by Mary Odili asked the appellant’s lawyer if the case was statute-barred or not before proceedings.

The Supreme Court also dismissed an appeal by the Peoples Democratic Party and its presidential candidate, Atiku Abubakar, seeking access to the Independent National Electoral Commission’s sever.

The Dattijo Muhammad-led five-man panel, in a unanimous judgment, dismissed the appeal, saying there was no basis to interfere with the earlier decision of the Presidential Election Petition Tribunal rejecting the appellants’ request to access the said server.

Justice Centus Nweze, who read the lead judgment of the apex court, said the appellants failed to establish that the tribunal wrongfully exercised its discretion in dismissing their request. Is Atiku chasing shadow? Only time will tell.

Though Mr Ukairo gave several reasons to convince the apex court that it was not-statute barred, the justices, however, drew his attention to Mr Buhari’s form CF001 which was the matter before the court and which was received by INEC on October 18. The case had been instituted on November 15 at the Federal High Court in Abuja, thereby indicating that the suit being a pre-election matter was filed outside the 14 days provided by the law.
Following the observation, the appellant’s counsel subsequently withdrew the action and the suit was dismissed without cost in the unanimous judgment delivered by Justice Odili.

The Supreme Court, on Tuesday, August 20, struck out an appeal filed by the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and its candidate in the 2019 presidential election, Atiku Abubakar. It reported that the appeal marked SC/738/2019 was filed against a ruling of the presidential election petition tribunal which held that the Atiku and the PDP do not have a reply to an application filed on May 14, 2019 by the All Progressives Congress (APC). The application filed by the APC sought, among others, the dismissal of their (Atiku and the PDP) petitions challenging the victory of President Muhammadu Buhari at the presidential election. It was learnt that the Supreme Court ruling was delivered by a five-man panel led by Justice Datijo Mohammed. The judges struck out the appeal for having become statute barred....

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