The Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and its presidential candidate in the February 23 presidential election, Atiku Abubakar, have formally filed their 66 grounds of appeal against the judgment of the Presidential Election Petition Tribunal at the Supreme Court.
Mike Ozekhome, SAN, a senior lawyer in the legal team of Mr Abubakar and PDP, disclosed that the appeal was predicated on 66 grounds, which they believed judges of the tribunal erred in their verdict on the petition against the election of President Muhammadu Buhari.
The five-member panel led by Justice Mohammed Garba had in its judgment delivered on September 11 dismissed the petition for being incompetent and lacking in merit.
The panel in dismissing the petition held that Mr Abubakar and PDP were unable to substantiate their allegations that the election was rigged in favour of Mr Buhari and the All Progressives Congress (APC).
They further held that the petitioners did not produce relevant witnesses to convince them that Mr Buhari did not possess the necessary educational qualification for the office of the President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.
Mr Ozekhome did not list the 66 grounds on which the appeal was predicated.
However, the appeal is centred on issues bordering on the qualification of Mr Buhari in the election and the controversial Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC’s) server amongst others.
Among the grounds listed included claims that the judgement of the tribunal was not based on the issues canvassed by the petitioners, especially in relation to the respondent’s academic qualifications.
Take, for instance, one of the respondent’s witnesses, rtd Maj.-Gen. Paul Tarfa, called by President Muhammadu Buhari’s lawyers said that they did not give their qualifications to the Military Board. Tarfa’s testimony is against the claim by Buhari that the Nigeria military is in possession of his certificates.
“Secondly, Buhari said that he was recruited into the military in 1961 and Tarfa said in 1962, so what is the correct date of his recruitment into the army. Somebody is not telling the truth.
“The issue in question is who entered the different grades for him from both the Cambridge and the West African School Certificate results.
“This is the first time that the court will say that the documents are admitted in the interest of justice. So, who entered the different grades for him and if he did it, why?”
Another ground of appeal is that the president’s Chief of Staff, Abba Kyari, brought the Cambridge documents dated July 18 and testified on July 20.
“The point here is that it was not pleaded when the respondent replied to the petition of Atiku and PDP. The position of the appellants is that in law, you don’t speak on documents not pleaded,” he said.