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LP National Chairman, Barrister Julius Abure, Presidential Candidate, Mr. Peter Obi and Vice Presidential Candidate, Senator Yusuf Datti Baba-Ahmed

Labour Party slams Supreme Court over Presidential poll appeal judgement

The Labour Party (LP) has condemned the Supreme Court’s handling of the appeal brought by it and Mr. Peter Obi, it’s presidential candidate in the February 2023 election, insisting that the apex court’s conduct “constitutes an unmitigated breach of the constitutional right of LP and her candidate to a fair hearing.”

In a statement by Alhaji Umar Farouk Ibrahim, its National Secretary, the LP gave several reasons why it considered the position of the Supreme Court regarding its appeal against the judgement of the Court of Appeal “extraordinary, terribly shocking, most unprecedented and unacceptable.”

It said, for instance, that the panel of the apex Court, headed by His Lordship John Inyang Okoro JSC, almost totally ignored the issues raised in their appeal, which were distinct from the issues raised in the appeal of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) while delivering judgement based on the issues raised by the PDP.

Insisting that the two appeals to the Supreme Court were distinct, emanating from two separate judgements of the Court of Appeal, with separate pleadings and different sets witnesses, the LP wondered why the Supreme Court panel, which neither consolidated the two appeals nor gave a directive or order that the judgement in one appeal would cover for the other, should off-handedly wave aside its appeal without, to date, giving them a certified true copy of the judgment, if any, in its appeal.

The party insisted that critical facts pleaded in its appeal were not addressed at all as they were not contained in the PDP appeal, including the issue of the “forfeiture of funds being proceeds of narcotics trafficking contained in the LP petition (and not in the reply);” the issue of
“Double nomination of the 3rd Respondent (who was not even a party in the PDP petition);” and the “Failure to comply with the mandatory requirement of Section 73(2) of the Electoral Act, 2022, the consequence of which the provision stipulates, renders the election invalid.”

In all, the statement said that “the LP finds it very embarrassing and depressing that the Supreme Court would, after hearing the appeal by our party, refuse to deliver any judgment and also fail to avail our party of any copy of whatever it considers to be its decision.”

Full text of the statement reads:

PRESS RELEASE BY LABOUR PARTY

1. The Supreme Court issued a hearing notice dated 25th October 2023, notifying the Labour Party (LP) and its candidate in the Presidential Election, Mr. Peter Obi, that judgment would be delivered in their appeal to the Supreme Court in Appeal No. SC/CV/937/2023 on Thursday, 26th October, 2023.

2. On the 26th of October, 2023, LP and her lawyers were in Court. The Supreme Court proceeded to read the judgment in Appeal No. SC/CV/935/2023 filed by the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP). After that, the Presiding Justice, His Lordship John Inyang Okoro JSC, verbally stated that the decision in the LP appeal would abide by the judgment just delivered in respect of the PDP appeal!
3. The LP finds the position taken by the Supreme Court regarding the judgment in her appeal extraordinary, terribly shocking, most unprecedented and unacceptable for the following reasons:
(a) The appeals filed by both the PDP and LP from the Court of Appeal to the Supreme Court were two distinct appeals which emanated from two separate judgments of the Court of Appeal.
(b) The two appeals were not even consolidated at the Supreme Court but were heard separately.
(c) At the separate hearing of both appeals, the question was never raised, the parties never agreed, and the Court neither gave a directive nor ordered that the judgment in one appeal would abide by the decision in the other!
(d) The petitions from where the two appeals arose were heard separately at the Court of Appeal based on separate pleadings and different sets of witnesses. Thus, the facts of the two petitions were remarkably different.
(e) The only issue where the parties agreed in the two appeals was 25% votes in Abuja. The other issues submitted to the Supreme Court for determination in the two appeals differed remarkably. By way of  illustrations, we draw attention to some of the issues:
(i) Forfeiture of funds being proceeds of narcotics trafficking contained in the LP petition (and not in the reply);
(ii) Double nomination of the 3rd Respondent (who was not even a party in the PDP petition);
(iii) Failure to comply with the mandatory requirement of Section 73(2) of the Electoral Act, 2022, the consequence of which the provision stipulates, renders the election invalid.
(iv) The effect of the certified true copies of 18,123 blurred and unreadable polling unit result sheets (Form EC8As) downloaded from the IReV, issued by the INEC to the LP and its candidate which they tendered in Court. Some were blank A4 papers, pictures, and images of unknown persons. They were purported to be copies of polling units results. Even with the materiality of the issue, the Court of Appeal evaded making a finding on it.  (f)  They were all part of the LP appeal but not that of the PDP appeal.
(g) The LP had, out of an abundance of caution, by letter dated 26th October 2023, applied to the Chief Registrar of the Supreme Court for the certified true copy of the judgment in the LP appeal. There was a reminder through a letter on 8th November 2023. However, to date, the requests have been ignored.
(h) The LP is also aware that by the provision of Section 294(1) of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999 (as amended), every Court established under the Constitution (which necessarily includes the Supreme Court) has a duty to:
“Furnish all parties to the cause or matter determined with duly authenticated copies of the decision within seven days of the delivery thereof.”
(i)   The Supreme Court has failed to do this in the present appeal.
4. In conclusion, the LP finds it very embarrassing and depressing that the Supreme Court would, after hearing the appeal by our party, refuse to deliver any judgment and also fail to avail our party of any copy of whatever it considers to be its decision.
5. With every sense of responsibility, the LP believes that the Supreme Court’s conduct is regrettable and unprecedented. This constitutes an unmitigated breach of the constitutional right of LP and her candidate to a fair hearing.

SIGNED:
ALHAJI UMAR FAROUK IBRAHIMNATIONAL SECRETARY

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