President Bola Tinubu presented 17 sets of exhibits in support of his eligibility to run in the February 25 presidential election on Tuesday.
Through a group of attorneys led by Chief Wole Olanipekun, SAN, Tinubu, who insisted he was the legitimate winner of the presidential election, submitted certified copies of bundles of documentary evidence to the Presidential Election Petition Court, or PEPC, in Abuja.
He presented the proof in support of the petition PDP candidate Alhaji Atiku Abubakar filed to have his election victory declared invalid.
A letter dated February 3, 2003, from the Nigeria Police Force (NPF) to the Consul General of the American Embassy in Nigeria, requesting his criminal history, was one of the exhibits President Tinubu presented to the court.
In addition, the US Embassy informed the NPF in a response that there was no criminal case against him as of February 4, 2003.
Along with his travel logs from 2012 to 2021, which the Nigerian Immigration Service certified on July 3, 2023, President Tinubu also presented a bundle of documents in court on Tuesday, including the report of the Committee on the Location of the Federal Capital Territory, or FCT.
In addition, President Tinubu submitted Forms EC8A from the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, which represented the voting results for the presidential election in Kano State, as well as Forms EC8D(A), which are a summary of the voting results from every state in the union.
The court also allowed the certified true copy of an Originating Summons with the reference number SC/CV/354/2023, which was submitted on February 28 to the Supreme Court by the attorneys general of the six PDP-controlled states of Adamawa, Akwa Ibom, Bayelsa, Delta, Edo, and Sokoto in order to have the results of the presidential election nullified.
Certified copies of six newspaper publications were the last piece of evidence the president presented to prove his election victory.
While Atiku and the PDP vehemently contested the admissibility of all the exhibits, INEC and the All Progressives Congress, APC, through their respective legal teams led by Mr. Abubakar Mahmoud, SAN, and Prince Lateef Fagbemi, SAN, did not object to the submission of all the documents.
The petitioners stated that in their final written response, they will provide the justifications for their reservations.
In the meanwhile, despite the objection, the five-member court panel led by Justice Haruna Tsammani accepted all of the documents into evidence and designated them as Exhibits RA 1 to RA 17.
You may recall that on March 1, INEC declared Tinubu of the ruling APC the winner of the presidential election, beating out 17 other contenders who ran for the position.
In order to beat the two leading candidates, Atiku of the PDP came in second with a total of 6,984,520 votes and Mr. Peter Obi of the Labour Party, LP, came in third with a total of 6,101,533 votes, it was determined that Tinubu received a total of 8,794,726 votes.
However, unhappy with the election’s results, Atiku and Obi, who each assert that they won the race for president, went before the court to question Tinubu’s victory.
They both requested that the court revoke the Certificate of Return that INEC had given to President Tinubu.
In particular, Atiku argued that Tinubu “was not qualified to contest at the time of the election” in the joint petition he filed with his party.
He contended that President Tinubu “demonstrated inconsistency as to his actual date of birth, secondary schools he attended (Government College Ibadan); his State of origin, gender, actual name; certificates evidencing Universities attended (Chicago State University).”
According to the petitioners; “The purported degree Certificate of the 2nd Respondent allegedly acquired at the Chicago State University did not belong to him but to a female (F) described as “F” in the Certificate bearing the name Bola Tinubu.
“The 2nd Respondent did not disclose to the 1st Respondent (INEC) his voluntary acquisition of the citizenship of Republic of Guinea with Guinean Passport No. D00001551, in addition to his Nigerian citizenship. The 2nd Respondent is hereby given notice to produce the original copies of his said two passports.”
He argued that the APC candidate did not meet the constitutional threshold and was “constitutionally disabled from contesting for office of President of Federal Republic of Nigeria”.
Additionally, Atiku contested Tinubu’s eligibility to hold the office of president by claiming that Tinubu had previously been charged with a crime involving dishonesty and drug trafficking by the United States District Court, Northern District of Illinois, Eastern Division, and fined $460,000.00.
After calling 27 witnesses and presenting papers to the court, the petitioners decided to drop their case.
In the same way, INEC’s defence was concluded with a single witness, opening the door for Tinubu and Vice President Kashim Shettima, the second and third respondents in the case, to provide their own defences against all of the charges.
Further proceedings in the case were postponed till Wednesday by the Justice Tsammani-led panel.