The Supreme Court, in a highly anticipated ruling on Thursday, dismissed an application by the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) candidate, Alhaji Atiku Abubakar, seeking to submit a copy of President Bola Tinubu’s certificate from the Chicago State University (CSU) in the United States of America as evidence.
Delivering the lead judgment, Justice Inyang Okoro emphasized that the constitutionally allowed period for such evidence submission had expired.
He pointed to section 285(5) of the 1999 Constitution, which stipulates a 180-day lifespan for the Presidential Election Petition Court (PEPC) to resolve petitions stemming from the presidential election.
Given that the PEPC had concluded its verdict, the Supreme Court ruled that it lacked the jurisdiction to admit any further evidence at the appeal stage.
The 180-day period provided for by the Constitution had elapsed on September 17, according to the court, leaving it unable to consider the document Atiku sought to introduce.
The Supreme Court highlighted that the issue of forgery, which Atiku sought to establish through the proposed evidence, was not part of the appeal’s initial pleas.
Consequently, the court refused to entertain the fresh evidence, stating that it did not align with the appeal’s issues for determination.
Atiku’s lead counsel, Chief Chris Uche, SAN, had argued for the admission of the new evidence, emphasizing its significance.
On the other hand, President Tinubu’s legal team, led by Chief Wole Olanipekun, SAN, insisted that the conditions for admitting the documents had not been met.
The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) and the All Progressives Congress (APC) also urged the court to reject Atiku’s request, highlighting the expiry of the time allotted for the petition’s hearing.