2007 poll: Atiku Heads For Supreme Court Again

Former Vice-President and presidential candidate of the Action Congress, Alhaji Atiku Abubakar; and his running mate, Senator Ben Obi, have filed an appeal at the Supreme Court challenging the refusal of the Court of Appeal to allow the European Union observers to testify that the presidential election was rigged.

In the notice of appeal obtained by our correspondent, Abubakar raised three grounds,asking the apex court to set aside the ruling of the Court of Appeal and an order allowing him to call the witnesses.

He also asked the Supreme Court to compel the Court of Appeal to reopen his case to enable him call the witnesses.

The vice-president said that the justices of the court of appeal erred in law when they held that witnesses subpoenaed on the order of the court could not testify unless their witnesses’ statements on oath were filed along with the petition.

According to him, frontloading of witnesses in election petition does not absolutely preclude oral testimony as enjoined by the Evidence Act and paragraph 40 (1) of the First Schedule of the Electoral Act, 2006.

He said that his application to call election monitors came under exceptional circumstances permitted by Section 4(5) of the Practice Directions for Election Petitions.

The notice of appeal reads, “The refusal of the court below to give directions for the subpoenaed witnesses to testify shut out the petitioners from effectively putting their cases across, thereby violating petitioners right to fair hearing as guaranteed under section 36 of the 1999 constitution.”

He explained that documents tendered upon subpoena were not permitted to be related to the petitioners pleadings by the witnesses subpoenaed.

The subpoenaed witnesses whose appearance are in contention are the Country Representative of the European Union Observation Mission, the National Secretary of Justice Development Peace/Caritas Nigeria, the National Coordinator of the Transition Monitoring Group, the country Director of the Democratic Institute, the Country Representative of the International Republican Institute, the Director-General of the Nigerian Television Authority, and the Nigeria Airspace Management Agency.

The others are the managing directors of the Channels and the AIT television stations.

The Court of Appeal had last Thursday dismissed Abubakar’s application to give oral evidence.

The court ruled that the application was not ‘meritorious’ and was dismissed.

The presiding Justice of the court, Justice James Ogebe, had in his ruling on the application held that Abubakar’s motion did not meet the expectations of the Fourth Schedule to the Practice Direction.


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