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SHOCKER: Supreme Court never delivered judgment in our appeal, has refused to issue CTC of judgment, Labour Party raises alarm

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The Labour Party (LP) has raised alarm that the Supreme Court has, till date, failed to deliver judgment in the appeal filed by the Party and its candidate in the Presidential Election, Mr. Peter Obi, and has also refused to avail it of the Certified True Copy (CTC) of the judgment.

This was disclosed in a press release by Labour Party signed by its National Secretary, Alhaji Umar Farouk Ibrahim, on Tuesday.

According to Alhaji Farouk Ibrahim, all the apex court did was “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!

The Party said that the Supreme Court’s position is “extraordinary, terribly shocking, most unprecedented and unacceptable”.

It noted that 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 and wondered how and why the Supreme Court, which did not even consolidate the two appeals, will contemplate a singular judgment on two separate appeals!

Ibrahim stated as follows:

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.”

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