The Supreme Court on Friday explained its reasons for its October 30 , 2019 judgment , which dismissed the appeal filed by the Peoples Democratic Party and its presidential candidate , Atiku Abubakar , against the outcome of the February 23, 2019 presidential election .
As it earlier did on October 30 , the apex court re – affirmed the September 30, 2019 judgment of the Presidential Election Petition Tribunal, which had dismissed the appellants ’ petition .
Re – echoing the findings of the lower tribunal , the apex court ruled that Atiku and the PDP failed to prove any of the five major issues formulated in the appeal.
The Chief Justice of Nigeria , Justice Tanko Muhammad, led the seven – man panel which delivered the unanimous judgment on Friday.
The lead judgment was prepared by the CJN , who was absent from Friday’ s proceedings .
The judgment was delivered by Justice John Okoro on his behalf.
In addition to the CJN , three other members of the panel , Justices Olabode Rhodes -Vivour , Olukayode Ariwoola , and Amir Sanusi , were absent on Friday.
Justice Okoro , Ejembi Eko and Uwani Aba – Aji were present .
The CJN ’ s judgment read, “ It is not whether INEC posted the results of the presidential election on its website.
It is whether the www . factsdontlieng. com from which the appellants downloaded the results belonged to INEC . ”
The CJN noted that the appellants ’ Witness 59 admitted that the results which they claimed gave them victory over Buhari was obtained by “ an anonymous ” employee of INEC acting as a whistleblower from the commission ’ s server and uploaded to www . factsdontlieng. com website .
“ The website , www . factsdontlieng. com, belonged to the whistleblower and not INEC , ” the CJN stated.
He ruled that Atiku and his party failed to prove that the content of the disputed result was obtained from a server maintained by INEC .
On the alleged non -qualification of Buhari to contest the election , the apex court restated the earlier decision of the lower court that Buhari was “eminently qualified ” by virtue of Sections 131 and 318 of the Nigerian Constitution .
“ I am well guided by the Constitution that by virtue of Section 318 of the Constitution that attendance of a secondary school without the actual possession of the certificate would suffice .
My job is not to question the rationale but to determine the issues and make a pronouncement on them , ” the CJN ruled .
He also ruled that a person who possessed the Grade II Teacher ’ s Certificate or the City and Guilds Certificate “ is qualified to contest the election into the office of the President as provided under Section 318 of the Constitution ” .
Affirming Buhari ’ s qualification to contest the election , the CJN ruled , “I am satisfied with the finding of the court below that the 2 nd defendant was eminently qualified to contest the election into the office of the President . ”
On the failure of the appellants to prove alleged over – voting during the election , the apex court held that their failure to tender the voter registers of the polling units where they claimed the alleged cases of over – voting took place was fatal to their case .
It noted that the appellants ’ allegation of non- compliance of the conduct of the election with the Electoral Act, could only be proved by the evidence of polling unit agents who witnessed the alleged irregularities at the polling units.
It stated that of the 62 witnesses called by the appellants , only five of them were polling unit agents .
Reacting to the judgment, the Presidency on Friday said , “ It reiterates that the onus of proof must necessarily fall on those that challenge the vote . ”
The Presidency , in a statement by Buhari ’ s media aide , Mr Garba Shehu , called on the PDP to put the election behind , adding that it was commendable that the party took the legal route to dispute the outcome of the poll up to the apex court.
“ We appreciate the PDP and their candidate for taking these claims to courts rather than expressing them in other ways ; but now Nigeria needs a robust and rigorous opposition .
The nation needs to move on. ”
Atiku ’ s lawyers shun court
Meanwhile , none of the over 20 Senior Advocates of Nigeria and over 30 others prosecuting the case for Atiku and his party was present in court on Friday.
On observing that the appellants were not represented , the leader of Buhari ’ s legal team , Alex Izinyon (SAN), sought to know from the panel if the appellants ’ lawyers were served with the hearing notice for the proceedings .
Justice Okoro , who was the most senior among the three Justices present , confirmed that the appellants ’ lawyers were served on Wednesday.
Responding, Izinyon apologised to the bench on behalf of the appellants ’ legal team led by Dr Livy Uzoukwu .
“That is not the practice .
It is not the practice for the learned senior lawyers or their juniors not to be here. My lord , we apologise on their behalf, ” he said .
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