Chicago certificate: Atiku urges Supreme Court to ignore technicality, overrule Tinubu on fresh evidence


The presidential candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party
(PDP) in the last presidential election, Alhaji Atiku Abubakar, has again
pleaded with the Supreme Court to jettison technicality and grant his
application for leave to tender fresh and additional evidence to support his
claim that President Bola Tinubu, submitted a forged document to the
Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to contest the February 25,
presidential election.


Atiku predicated his plea on the grounds that presenting
forged documents by any candidate, especially by a candidate for the highest
office in the land, is a very grave constitutional issue that must not be


The former vice president stated this in his reply on point
of law to Tinubu’s objection to the grant of leave to Atiku to present the
fresh evidence before the apex court.


Tinubu had predicated his objection on grounds of
jurisdiction and that the issue of qualification is a pre-election matter,
among others, and subsequently prayed the court to deny the grant of the


But in his reply on point of law, Atiku, while faulting
Tinubu, submitted that issues of merit ought not to be determined or pronounced
upon at the interlocutory stage.


The appellants/applicants while noting that they are only at
this stage merely applying for leave of the Supreme Court to receive the fresh
evidence, submitted that “to refuse to grant the leave, as the respondents have
argued, will amount to undue technicality.


“The Supreme Court, as the Apex Court and indeed the Policy
Court, has intervened time and again to do substantial justice in such matters
of great constitutional importance, as it did in the case of AMAECHI vs. INEC
(2008) 5 NWLR (Pt. 1080) 227 and OBI vs. INEC (2007) 11 NWLR (Pt. 1046) 565.
The Supreme Court applied the principle of ubi jus ibi remedium to ensure
substantial justice is done in such novel scenarios.


“The need to rebuff, eschew and reject technicality and the
duty of Court to ensure substantial justice is very germane in this matter,
given the gravity of the constitutional issue involved in deciding whether a
candidate for the highest office in the land, the office of President of the
Country, presented a forged certificate or not.


“In urging the Honourable Court to overrule the objections
of the Respondents, we can do no better than to commend to your noble Lordships
the insightful words of the Supreme Court in ASSAH & ORS V. KARA & ORS
(2014) LPELR-24212(SC), per Rhodes-Vivour, JSC as follows:


“Law is blind. It has no eyes. It cannot see. That explains
why a statue of a woman with her eyes covered can be found in front of some
High Courts. On the contrary, justice is not blind. It has many eyes, it sees,
and sees very well.


‘The aim of Courts is to do substantial justice between the
parties and any technicality that rears its ugly head to defeat the cause of
justice will be rebuffed by the Court.” (Underlining ours).


Meanwhile, in a 20 paragraph affidavit deposed to in support
of the application, Atiku argued that if the Apex Court grants the application,
there would be no need for “any further argument other than the written address
in support of same showing that the 2nd Respondent is in violation of the
provisions of Section 137 (1) (j) of the Constitution by presenting a
certificate disclaimed by the institution from where he purportedly procured


“That contrary to paragraphs 16(xi) of the 2nd Respondent’s
Counter-Affidavit, there was no ex parte communication with the Honourable
Court, but the letter was forwarded to the Registrar of the Court just as was
done in the case of Uzodinma vs. Izunaso (2011) 17 NWLR (Pt. 1275) 30, at 56
(paragraph h of the affidavit on page 56) in which Counsel for the 2nd
Respondent and Counsel for the Appellants/Applicants were both involved.


The deponent, Mr Uyi Giwa-Osagie, further argued that Tinubu
objection was baseless because he was represented both at the discovery and the
depositions as well as at the court hearing by his Chicago Attorneys, and that
the 2nd Respondent never challenged the issue of venue of the discovery and


“That the presence of the 1st and 3rd Respondents at the
discovery and deposition was not necessary.


“That I know that the 2nd Respondent’s appeal was to prevent
the discovery and deposition, and that the said Appeal failed.


“That I know as a fact that the discovery and deposition
were ordered by the District Judge, and was not out-of-court.


“That the Appellants were not indolent in their pursuit of
the discoveries and deposition as it was also the letter tendered as EXHIBIT
XX2 by the 2nd Respondent in the course of his defence purportedly issued by
Caleb Westerberg that clearly gave the Appellants/Applicants further reasons to
build on the evidence of PW27 by the discovery proceedings for the documents
and Deposition on Oath of the same Caleb Westerberg.


“That the process for the discovery and deposition was
commenced by the Appellants/Applicants with several initial preliminary
processes by their U.S. Attorneys culminating in their eventually filing a
Petition for the issuance of Subpoena, a copy of which is annexed herewith as


“That the process was severely stalled by the vehement
opposition of the 2nd Respondent, citing irreparable damage to him, amongst
other excuses, and I annex herewith as EXHIBIT “L” the motion the 2nd
Respondent to quash the subpoena, which application failed.


“That the process was also further delayed by a motion to
join or intervene filed by the 2nd Respondent, which was granted, a copy of
which application is annexed herewith as EXHIBIT “M”.


“That eventually the subpoena was ordered, and annex
herewith a copy of the subpoena along with the documents that accompanied it as


“That the 2nd Respondent has been in primary possession of
all the facts sought in the discovery but took every step to block their
release, notwithstanding that the 2nd Respondent had equally applied through
his Attorney in the United States, Mr. Wole Afolabi, for the release of the
said documents, which were released to him as shown is EXHIBIT “P” presented in
the course of the discovery and deposition process.


“That I know as a fact that the appellants are in this
appeal challenging the rulings of the lower court striking out certain
paragraphs of their petition as well as their replies dealing with aspects of
qualifications of the 2nd respondent”.


Meanwhile, Atiku faulted Tinubu’s submission that he was
inconsistent in his names, describing the submission as immaterial and
pedestrian, as there is no petition challenging his qualification.


“That it is immaterial that 1st Respondent had since June
24th 2022 published the factitious credentials of the 2nd Respondent as
presentation of a forged certificate by a candidate for election to the office
of President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria is a post-election matter under
Section 137 (1) (j) of the Constitution”.


Besides, Atiku pointed out that the presentation of a forged
certificate disqualifies a candidate for all time, no matter when presented.


“That the case is not whether the 2nd Respondent attended
Chicago State University but whether he presented a forged certificate to the
Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC).


“That at the trial, a National Youth Service Corps
certificate with serial number 173807 presented by the 2nd Respondent to the
1st Respondent was equally tendered by the Appellants/Applicants at the trial
as “EXHIBIT PBD 1A” with the name Tinubu Bola Adekunle, which is annexed
herewith as EXHIBIT “J”.


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