Nigeria’s president has asked the Supreme Court to reject a petition by his political opponents to introduce new evidence aimed at overturning February’s presidential election.
Nigerian President Bola Tinubu’s plea to the Supreme Court was contained in his response to an appeal made by the main opposition — People’s Democratic Party (PDP) candidate Atiku Abubakar.
Abubakar seeks to present new evidence at the Supreme Court in a bid to annul Tinubu’s victory, which was upheld last month by a lower court after weeks of litigation.
This follows a U.S. court ordering Chicago State University to release Tinubu’s academic records to Abubakar’s lawyers. Abubakar alleges that Tinubu submitted a forged diploma to Nigeria’s electoral commission. The U.S. university confirms Tinubu received a bachelor’s degree from the school but could not authenticate the diploma.
The PDP said Tinubu’s certificates from the university varied from the one he submitted to the electoral body and before the court.
The opposition party also said the president’s documents indicated it was a female student who attended the school and not Tinubu — leading to allegations of possible identity theft.
The president said the opposition appeal is devoid of merit and asked the higher court to dismiss it.
“The Supreme Court in this instance is not a court of trial, it is a court of final appellate determination,” said Felix Morka, national publicity secretary of the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) party. “The rules of court, the rules of practice and judicial precedence do not support a litigant…you cannot at this stage seek to introduce fresh evidence. Atiku Abubakar is only trying to use every opportunity to malign this president and perpetrate his lies and falsehoods.”
Abubakar and Peter Obi, the second-place finisher in February’s presidential election, are challenging Tinubu’s win and the ruling last month upholding his victory.
Morka said the opposition parties are desperate.
“These guys are just desperate for attention and in their defeat… they need to go get some counseling and get a perspective,” he said.
February’s presidential election was the most controversial since Nigeria’s return to democracy in 1999.
The election was marred by violence and widespread allegations of vote manipulation.
Phrank Shuaibu, Atiku Abubakar’s spokesperson, said the ruling party must answer important questions.
“It’s the last antic of a dying horse,” he said. “He’s struggling, we expect him to struggle. It is not about Atiku Abubakar wanting to be president at all costs… it’s about the people of Nigeria. The only thing that is left for the Nigerian people that is their integrity and their honor is what he wants to erode because he has eroded our finances, our economy by removing [the government] fuel subsidy without a plan.”
It is not clear if the Supreme Court will admit any new evidence before passing final judgement on the matter.