The Supreme Court has dismissed the application by the candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Atiku Abubakar, to present fresh evidence on the Chicago State University (CSU) diploma of President Bola Tinubu.
The apex court, in a judgment delivered by Justice Inyang Okoro on Thursday, held that the time for tendering such evidence had expired and could not be extended.
The court noted that Section 285(5) of the 1999 Constitution, as amended, gave the Presidential Election Petition Court (PEPC) a 180-day lifespan to hear and determine in writing all petitions arising from the presidential election.
The court said that since the PEPC had delivered its verdict, no provision of the law would allow the admission of any other evidence at the appeal stage.
The court also observed that the issue of forgery, which Atiku sought to establish through the proposed fresh evidence, was not pleaded in any paragraph of his appeal.
The court therefore refused and dismissed the application by Atiku and the PDP.
Atiku had prayed the apex court to admit the fresh evidence, which he said would prove that President Tinubu submitted a forged certificate to the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) in aid of his qualification to participate in the election.
His lead counsel, Chief Chris Uche, SAN, argued that the issue involving Tinubu’s certificate was a weighty, grave, and constitutional one, which the Supreme Court should admit in the interest of justice.
He said that the 32-page document, released on the orders of Judge Nancy Maldonado of the District Court of Illinois, Eastern Division, Illinois, US, and handed over to his client on October 2, was not pleaded but urged the court to admit it as evidence.
He was, however, opposed by INEC lawyer Abubakar Mahmoud and the lead counsel to President Tinubu, Wole Olanipekun, who urged the Supreme Court to dismiss Atiku’s application.
They contended that Atiku could not present fresh evidence at the Supreme Court and that he failed to obtain fresh evidence for the trial even though the certificate was published over a year ago.
They also argued that INEC should have been a party to the deposition proceedings in the US and that the CSU depositions were dormant until the deponent came to court and testified.
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