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Presidential poll: Supreme Court gives Yar’Adua, INEC 8 weeks to reply Atiku, Buhari

Posted by By GODWIN TSA, Abuja on 2008/05/02 | Views: 590 |

Presidential poll: Supreme Court gives Yar’Adua, INEC 8 weeks to reply Atiku, Buhari


The Supreme Court on Tuesday directed President Umaru Musa Yar’Adua, his deputy, Dr. Goodluck Jonathan and the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to file their replies, within eight weeks, to the appeal filed by the presidential candidates of the Action Congress (AC), Alhaji Atiku Abubakar and General Muhammadu Buhari of the All Nigeria Peoples Party (ANPP) contesting the ruling of the Presidential Election Petitions Tribunal.

The Supreme Court on Tuesday directed President Umaru Musa Yar’Adua, his deputy, Dr. Goodluck Jonathan and the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to file their replies, within eight weeks, to the appeal filed by the presidential candidates of the Action Congress (AC), Alhaji Atiku Abubakar and General Muhammadu Buhari of the All Nigeria Peoples Party (ANPP) contesting the ruling of the Presidential Election Petitions Tribunal.

The tribunal had upheld the declaration of Yar’Adua as winner of the April 21, 2007 presidential poll.
Besides, the apex court said that it was ready to shift its vacation to allow expeditious hearing of the appeals filed by the two presidential candidates. The vacation will start in July and last till September.

The court made the order after counsel to President Yar’Adua, Chief Wole Olanipekun (SAN), said that he needed eight weeks allowed by court rules to file his brief.
In his remarks, counsel to the INEC, Chief Kanu Agabi (SAN), advised the justices to proceed on their vacation.

The former Attorney General of the Federation and Justice Minister said that he had to work day and night to respond to issues raised by the appellants and that he would also need the eight weeks allowed by the rules to file his papers.

Earlier, counsel to Buhari, Chief Mike Ahamba (SAN), had, while drawing the attention of the court to section 148 of the Electoral Act 2006, which enjoined tribunals to hear election matters expeditiously, prayed the court to abridge the time within which counsel would be allowed to adopt their papers.
Speaking in agreement with the submission of Ahamba, Professor Babatunde Kasunmu (SAN), who led other senior lawyers representing Atiku, appealed to the respondent’s lawyers to concede to an abridgment of time, a plea they promptly rejected.

Responding to Kasunmu’s request, Olanipekun said: “Professor Kasunmu was my teacher. He knows the law more than anyone of us here. If he takes four weeks to write his brief, I will take eight weeks.”
This joke generated laughter from both the bench and the bar.
Before closing the case, Justice Kutigi, Chief Justice of Nigeria, said that he did not want a situation where any of the parties would claim that he was not given ample time to file his papers.
He, therefore, ruled that all counsel should take the normal days allowed by the rules to file their papers, meaning that the respondents would have eight weeks to file their responses while the appellant would have three weeks, thereafter, to reply.

The case was adjourned to no specific date.
Outside the court room, Ahamba said that he would file an application for accelerated hearing.
Atiku, in his appeal, is asking Supreme Court to set aside the judgment of the Court of Appeal delivered on March 8, 2008 and void the election of President Yar’Adua.
The Court of Appeal had held that Buhari and Atiku did not present sufficient materials to prove their claims that the election was rigged.

They are both challenging the entire decision of the tribunal, which held that they did not prove their cases to warrant the nullification of the presidential election.
In addition, Buhari is asking the court to set aside the election of Yar’Adua on the grounds of non-qualification. He further asked the apex court to hold that the election purportedly conducted by the INEC and its Chairman, Maurice Iwu, for the presidency of Nigeria, be set aside and declared invalid.
The ANPP presidential candidate, in his notice of appeal, said the justices of the Court of Appeal erred in law when they wrongly placed the onus of proof on him.
He said that Section 146 (1) of the Electoral Act did not place on him the burden of proof, which the court did.

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Fay(Katy, Texas, US)says...

Actually translates to bravehearted.