During the hearing of the appeal filed by PDP’s Atiku Abubakar, the Supreme Court acknowledged the existence of conflicting letters from Chicago State University (CSU) concerning President Bola Tinubu’s certificate. Justice John Okoro, the Chairman of the 7-member panel, raised the issue, stating that the court is presented with two contradictory letters.
Recalling that on September 6, 2023, the Presidential Election Petition Tribunal dismissed the appeals of Atiku and Peter Obi of the Labour Party, both candidates turned to the apex court. Atiku sought to introduce additional evidence against Tinubu, alleging forgery. Atiku had requested Tinubu’s academic records from CSU to substantiate his claim that the president submitted forged documents to INEC.
However, when the documents were released, the 180-day statutory period for filing and determining an election petition had expired. Atiku insisted that the court should allow him to present fresh evidence, emphasizing the serious constitutional implications of a presidential candidate submitting forged documents.
Tinubu opposed this, arguing that granting such an appeal would constitute an abuse of the court process. Tinubu contended that the issue is a pre-election matter and urged the court to reject the application.
In response, Atiku argued that matters of merit should not be decided at the interlocutory stage. He highlighted that presenting a forged certificate disqualifies a candidate permanently, regardless of when it is presented.
During the recent appeal hearing, Justice Okoro emphasized the need to prove criminal matters beyond a reasonable doubt. He raised the crucial question: “But in this case, there are two conflicting letters from the CSU – one authenticating the president’s certificate and another discrediting it. Which do we rely on