President Bola Tinubu opened the defence of his election victory today, July 4, tendering 17 sets of exhibits in evidence to support his eligibility to contest the February 25 presidential election.
Tinubu, who maintained that he is the bonafide winner of the presidential contest, through his team of lawyers led by Wole Olanipekun (SAN), tendered from the Barrister, certified copies of bundles of documentary evidence before the Presidential Election Petition Court, (PEPC)sitting in Abuja.
He adduced the evidence to defend the petition the candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, Atiku Abubakar, filed to nullify his election victory.
Among the exhibits that President Tinubu tendered before the court, included a letter dated February 3, 2003, which the Nigeria Police Force, NPF, wrote to the Consul General of the Embassy of the United States of America, in Nigeria, demanding for his criminal record, as well as a reply the US Embassy sent to the NPF on February 4, 2003, which indicated that there was no criminal file against him.
Another bundle of documents that President Tinubu tendered in court on Tuesday, were his academic records from Chicago State University, his travel records between 2012 and 2021, which was certified on July 3, 2023, by the Nigerian Immigration Service, as well as the report of the Committee on the location of the Federal Capital Territory, FCT.
More so, President Tinubu tendered Forms EC8A of the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, which represented the polling unit results of the presidential election in Kano State, and equally, Forms EC8D(A), which are the summary of results of the election from all the states of the federation.
Also admitted in evidence by the court was the certified true copy of an Originating Summons marked: SC/CV/354/2023, which the Attorneys-General of six PDP-controlled states- Adamawa, Akwa Ibom, Bayelsa, Delta, Edo, and Sokoto- filed at the Supreme Court on February 28 to void the outcome of the presidential election.
The last proof of evidence the President tendered in support of his election victory, were certified copies of six newspaper publications.
Whereas INEC and the All Progressives Congress (APC), through their team of lawyers led by Abubakar Mahmoud, (SAN), and Lateef Fagbemi (SAN), respectively, did not oppose the tendering of all the documents, however, Atiku and the PDP, vehemently challenged the admissibility of all the exhibits.
The Petitioners said they would adduce reasons behind their objections, in their final written address.
Despite the objection, Justice Haruna Tsammani-led’s five-member panel of the court admitted all the documents in evidence and marked them as Exhibits RA 1 to RA 17.
It will be recalled that INEC had on March 1, announced Tinubu of the ruling APC as the winner of the presidential poll, ahead of 17 other candidates that contested the election.
It declared that Tinubu scored a total of 8,794,726 votes to defeat the two major contenders, Atiku of the PDP who came second with a total of 6,984,520 votes, and Mr. Peter Obi of the Labour Party, LP, who came third with a total of 6,101,533 votes.
However, dissatisfied with the outcome of the election, both Atiku and Obi, who are separately claiming that they won the presidential contest, approached the court to challenge Tinubu’s victory.
They both prayed the court to withdraw the Certificate of Return that was issued to President Tinubu by INEC.
Specifically, Atiku, in the joint petition he filed with his party, maintained that Tinubu “was at the time of the election, not qualified to contest.”
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).
“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 the Republic of Guinea with Guinean Passport No. D00001551, in addition to his Nigerian citizenship. The 2nd Respondent is hereby given notice to produce 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 the office of President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria”.
Atiku, challenged Tinubu’s eligibility to occupy the presidential seat, alleging that he was previously indicted and fined the sum of $460,000.00 by the United States District Court, Northern District of Illinois, Eastern Division, in Case No: 93C 4483, for an offense involving dishonesty and drug trafficking.
The petitioners closed their case after they produced 27 witnesses that testified and tendered documents before the court.
INEC closed its defense with a lone witness, thereby, paving the way for Tinubu and Vice President Kashim Shettima, who are 2nd and 3rd Respondents in the matter, to open their defense to all the allegations.
The Justice Tsammani-led panel adjourned further proceedings in the matter to tomorrow, Wednesday, 5.