The Supreme Court on Thursday justified its rejection of Atiku Abubakar’s fresh evidence of forgery against President Bola Tinubu on the grounds that he was too slow in presenting them.
Justice John Okoro said he could not fathom why Mr Abubakar waited for the constitutionally-allowed 180 days for submission of evidence to elapse before introducing the deposition of Chicago State University (CSU).
In the deposition, Mr Westberg, the school registrar, adamantly refused to authenticate the diploma that Mr Tinubu had presented to the country’s electoral body, INEC, asserting that the institution did not issue it.
“The appellants failed to convince this court on why it waited until after the Court below delivered judgement in the petition and lost the 180 days donated to it by the Constitution before bringing the said deposition to be admitted in this court,” Mr Okoro said.
The top jurist said Mr Abubakar had ample time between June 2022, when Mr Tinubu submitted the contentious certificate and when he filed a petition at the tribunal in March 2023, to obtain the CSU evidence to strengthen his position at the elections petitions tribunal.
“If I may ask what attempts did the appellants make between the publication of the 2nd respondent (Mr Tinubu) form EC-9 and accompanying documents in June 2022 — more than a year ago — and the date of filing the petition on 21st of March 2023 to obtain the documents from CSU which could have been used at the trial court,” stated Mr Okoro.
“What attempts did the appellants make to obtain these documents between the dates of filing the petition and the conclusion of trial?” he further queried.
“To say the least, the above questions are critical in the quest of this court’s effort to decide whether the new evidence ought to be admitted.”
“I think they were a bit tardy and were not reasonably diligent in their attempts to obtain the documents,” Mr Okoro surmised.