A former Chairman of the Section of Public Interest and Development Law, Nigerian Bar Association, Monday Ubani, has explained how difficult it is for the Supreme Court to admit fresh evidence in the appeal of the judgment of the Presidential Election Petition Tribunal.
Ubani stated this while reacting to the case initiated in the United States by the 2023 Presidential candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party, Atiku Abubakar while speaking on Channels Television’s Sunrise Daily on Thursday.
Abubakar had requested the release of President Bola Tinubu’s certificate from the Chicago State University, with the suspicion that the certificate the President submitted to the Independent National Electoral Commission may not be authentic.
Meanwhile, President Tinubu had also through his lawyers, resisted Atiku’s demand for his records to be released, but the US court eventually ordered CSU to release the President’s academic records to Atiku, who had told the court he needed them for his appeal in the Supreme Court.
However, the certificates have been released by the American University on Tuesday last week.
Reacting to the development, Ubani said “Looking at the facts surrounding it, the issue of admissibility of fresh evidence by the appellate court is very rare, especially if that evidence was available to you while you were initiating the process.
“The Supreme Court will never, even the Court of Appeal, admit fresh evidence because their job is to review the decision of the court below and not to now evaluate any evidence. They don’t take any evidence but there are special circumstances under which fresh evidence can be admitted by the appellate court and that ground is maybe by the time you file the case that evidence was not available.”
The lawyer further said it will take a lot from Atiku’s legal team to convince the Supreme Court to admit fresh evidence in the appeal of the election tribunal judgment, as the apex court will only be reviewing the decision of the lower court.
He stated that Atiku’s legal team will be challenged by Tinubu’s team on the issue of admissibility of fresh evidence; adding that the court may be left to use its discretionary power to decide whether or not to admit fresh evidence in the case.
“The issue of admissibility of fresh evidence is very critical, you must convince, and whoever is bringing it will be opposed by the other party. So, the court now exercises what is called discretionary power in either admitting or not allowing that fresh evidence to come in,” he said.
It would recalled that Tinubu’s election was affirmed by the Presidential Election Petition Tribunal on September 6, 2023.
The tribunal held that the petitioners, the Peoples Democratic Party and its flag bearer, Atiku Abubakar, did not successfully prove the allegations against this ground and indeed all the grounds in their petition.
The leader of the tribunal of a five-man panel, Justice Haruna Tsammani said, “This petition accordingly lacks merit. I affirm the return of Bola Ahmed Tinubu as the duly elected President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria. The parties are to bear their cost.”
During the judgement, the court also expunged 37 exhibits tendered by the witnesses from the court’s records.