*Court of Appeal Registrar Umar Bangari confirmed September 6 – Channels Television
*Tribunal Secretary Josephine Ekperobe says no date has been picked
*It’s confusing, we have Sept 6 bit not clear what case it is for – Abuja lawyer
By KEMI KASUMU
A date circulating across some Nigerian media (excluding The DEFENDER), as day set for the delivery of final judgment in the cases challenging the election of President Bola Ahmed Tinubu before the Presidential Election Petition Tribunal, sitting in Abuja, has been debunked.
Channels Television, in its online report, specifically reported that the Court of Appeal Registrar, Umar Bangari, had confirmed to it on Monday, saying the proceedings will be open to live broadcast by interested television stations.
According to the reports that emerged, it was suggested that the Tribunal had picked Wednesday September 6 as the date to deliver a ruling in the petitions against Tinubu’s victory but the Tribunal said it was not true as no date has been picked for the final judgment.
It would be recalled that after adopting the final written addresses of the parties involved in the suits, the five-man Tribunal headed by Justice Haruna Simon Tsamani reserved judgment and said a date to deliver the verdict would be communicated to concerned parties and their lawyers.
However, when contacted by THE WHISTLER, Secretary of the Presidential Election Petition Tribuna (PEPT) panel, Barrister Josephine J. Ekperobe, said to the online newspaper that no specific date had been picked to deliver the ruling.
Ekperobe, according to the other report on same day titled, “JUST IN: Again, Presidential Tribunal Denies Fixing Judgement Date on Obi, Atiku’s Petition Against Tinubu”, simply said denounced the reports by saying, “No date yet please”.
An Abuja lawyer, involved in one of the Presidential election cases, confessed to our enquiry that the situation was confusing as he has a September 6 date but that it was not clear what case it is mean for.
Although this online newspaper had gathered on Saturday that a conspiracy was ongoing to put the nation in tight corner by pushing delivering judgment in the case against Tinubu to a time in September, when judges will be set to go on vacation, a development sensed as capable of causing prejudice in justice and jeopardising the he nation’s already fragile democracy.
Nigerians, who are saying this, said the tribunal judges, believed to have been put through some kind of compromise by the already serving (uncleared) President and his agents, were suspiciously planning to deliver the judgment sometimes in September when their vacation would be due and, immediately after that, they declare “judiciary is on vacation”.
When asked for his take on what those Nigerians were insinuating, an analyst, who refused to be named about this, explained how it is planned to work, “Once they deliver the judgment to the disfavor of already available evidences and the opposition and other aggrieved Nigerians raise issues, the judges will proceed naturally on vacation.”
Continuing he said, “What will now be left will be for the ruling class to raise agents, from among media and civil society groups, who will now be raised to use all manner of media reports, articles and social media campaigns to ask the still feeling cheated groups to go to Supreme Court. Don’t forget that the judges will already be on vacation and before they come back, say in January or whatever time it is they will resume, the issues about filing appeal at Supreme Court will now take another days of argument.
“By then, sentiments will begin to set in, as some people will now begin call for overlook asking for Tinubu to be allowed to complete his term as he will already be running into a year in office. This is how they what to rubbish the course of justice,” he said.
That expression by the analyst came on Saturday and news of September 6 date for the delivery of judgment in the presidential election petition case broke into the nation’s media airspace Monday morning but swiftly denied by the Tribunal, saying it was not true as it had not picked any date yet for the final judgment delivery in the case.
The DEFENDER reports that a September 6 date had, early Monday morning, been widely reported as the day picked to deliver ruling on the petitions challenging the victory of President Bola TInubu declaration, by the Nigeria’s Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC)-led Professor Mahmood Yakubu, as winner of the February 25, 2023 presidential election.
Tinubu has been tongue-lashed locally and internationally by people, especially the military governments of Republic of Niger among others, who challenged his qualification to query their takeovers of powers in their country when his position as Nigeria’s President still faces “legitimacy” question.
The news of a September 6 for the determination of outcome of judicial decisions on the case, Monday morning, was coming as Nigerians eagerly await the Tribunal ruling in the suits filed by the Labour Party (LP) and the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) as well as their presidential candidates, Mr. Peter Obi and Alhaji Atiku Abubakar, respectively, against the victory of President Tinubu of the All Progressives Congress (APC) in the February 25 election as declared by the INEC.
According to provisions of the Constitution, the Tribunal is compelled to deliver judgment on the petition on or before September 17, in compliance with a stipulated maximum of 180 days for the panel to conclude its job.
If the submission of the earlier analyst is anyway to go by, leadership of Nigerian judiciary must watch closely in ensuring that no foul play is created in effort to clear Nigerians’ minds about their doubts in the February 25 presidential election, this newspaper opines as creating constitutional crisis in addition to the already heated polity as being undergone by Nigerians, currently, will not be good for the nation’s democracy.