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Octogenarian Nwabueze (SAN) appears in tribunal for Atiku

Leading legal luminary and renowned constitutional lawyer, Prof. Ben Nwabueze (SAN), appeared in Tribunal sitting Thursday for Alhaji Atiku Abubakar at the continued hearing of the Presidential Election Petition Tribunal.
Already, the petitioners, Atiku and the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) have signaled the tribunal to start calling their witnesses at the Tribunal.
In an interview, the lead counsel for the former Vice President, Dr Livy Uzoukwu (SAN) averred that his team would begin the case with witnesses from Niger State.
Ahead of witnesses’ testimonies, Business Hilights gathered that about 50 boxes containing electoral materials from Niger, Jigawa, Kebbi, and Yobe states, have been brought into the court for presentation as evidence and exhibits.
Recall that the PDP had last week, disclosed that it has well over 400 witnesses lined to buttress its claims that PDP won the March 23, 2019 presidential election conducted by the Independent Electoral Commission (INEC).

Presentation of Prof. Ben Nwabueze to members of the 2019 Presidential Election Court on Thursday, July 4, 2019, in Abuja.

“The February/March 2019 General Election have come and gone, but the generality of Nigerians seem agreed that something was wrong with them, particularly the February Presidential Election.

They suspect that the later was manipulated or, in more familiar language, rigged.

What is not known is how or by whom the rigging wad done. An Election Tribunal/Court is now saddled with the task, an intractable task, of finding out the truth about what happened.

The task before it is made intractable by what Justice Kishna Iyer of the Indian Supreme Court referred to as “the tyranny of procedure, the horror of the doctrine of precedent, with its stifling and deadening insistence on uniformity, and the booby traps of pleadings.”

The decided election cases show the Election Tribunal/Court to have succumbed all too readily to these constraining factors, but Nigerians still expect it to rise above the self-imposed shackles in order to find out the truth about what happened during that election.

The Tribunal/Court owes it as a duty to the country to do so, as the discovery of the truth will help to set us free from the scourge of electoral malpractices.

As the Court of Appeal and the Supreme Court have stated in several cases, see e.g. Buhari V. Obasanjo (2005) 2 NWLR (Pt. 910) 241, 415 (CA); All Progressive Congress V. Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) & Ors (2015) 15 NWLR (Pt. 1481) 1 pages 73 and 81 (SC) election petitions are sui generis proceedings, established, not for the purpose of adjudicating disputes arising in dealings or transactions between individual persons, but for the purpose of enabling the political community to choose, in free and fair election, persons to manage public affairs on its behalf and for the benefit of all its members, which makes largely inappropriate the technicalities of the law of pleadings and evidence applicable in ordinary cases between individual persons. An election petition is not such ordinary case; it is sui generis, to which the technicalities of the law of pleadings and evidence may not be appropriate.

And the Judicial Committee of the Privy Council has said that a tribunal is not deprived of the character of a court or its decisions the character of judicial decisions simply because of it is empowered by statue to decide as it thinks just and equitable or according to equity and good conscience, inasmuch as the effect of such a power given to a court is not to exonerate it from all rules of law: Peacock V. Newton Marrickville and General Co-operative Building Society No. 4 Ltd (1943) 67 CLR 25.

An approach based on law but moderated by what is just and equitable in the interest of peace, security and good governance of the community is what is needed in election cases, not a rigid adherence to the technicalities of the law of pleadings and evidence and the doctrine of precedent.

He then informed the tribunal that Dr. Livy Uzoukwu will lead the legal team for the day. He subsequently left the tribunal.