Hours after the camp of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) presidential candidate, former Vice President Atiku Abubakar, complained that the delay in releasing the certified true copy (CTC) of the Presidential Election Petition Court (PEPC) judgment to its lawyers is undemocratic and undermining its plan to file an appeal at the Supreme Court, an electronic copy of the judgment has surfaced on social media.
Curiously, the trending copy appears to be for the legal team of President Bola Tinubu, leading many to question its autheticity. It has Tinubu Presidential Legal Team inscribed on it.
But the coordinator of the Tinubu legal team, Mr Babatunde Ogala, has offered an explanation for the watermark inscription. His explanation also questions the authenticity of claims by Atiku’s camp that it did not have a copy of the PEPC judgement as of Friday.
Said Ogala, in a statement titled, Stop the mischief about watermark on PEPT judgement:
“Following some mischievous insinuations being made in certain quarters regarding the innocuous water-mark of copies of the consolidated judgment of the Court of Appeal with the inscription -“Tinubu Presidential Legal Team ‘TPLT’”, it is has become necessary to offer this clarification.
“After the delivery of judgment in the 3 (Three) election petitions by the Court of Appeal on September 6, 2023, the Court directed its registry to make physical copies of same available on September 7, 2023.
“Accordingly, the Tinubu Presidential Legal Team applied for a certified true copy of the said judgment and paid the prescribed fee.
“Lawyers for PDP were present at the registry at the same time to collect the same judgment.
“In fact, the representative of the PDP collected the first copy that was made available by the registry.
“On collecting our own copy, we immediately scanned and water-marked with the inscription – “Tinubu Presidential Legal Team ‘TPLT’” before circulating the scanned soft copies to the lawyers in our team.
“The certified true copies issued to us and other parties in the petitions by the registry do not contain the said inscription and any insinuation to the contrary is untrue.
“Counsel to the petitioners will also appreciate the fact that the insinuations being circulated in some quarters are untrue, unkind, unfair, and unfortunate, as they have the same certified copies of the judgment as we have.”
Recall a media aide to Atiku, Phrank Shaibu, had lamented that three days after delivering its judgment on the petition by his principal, the Court of Appeal was yet to provide his lawyers and PDP with certified true copies of its judgment.
He said the development comes as Atiku and his lawyers have just 14 days to file their appeal to the Supreme Court on the judgment.
According to Shaibu, “by not making available to Atiku Abubakar, Presidential candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party, the certified true copies of the judgment of Wednesday for its filings at the Supreme Court, the Presidential Election Petition Court, is undermining Atiku’s and Nigerians quest for justice.”
In a statement on Friday, Shaibu reminded the PEPC that “it had made heavy weather at the delivery of its judgment on Wednesday that parties need to adhere strictly to the time schedule set by the court.”
He noted that “the PEPC is not oblivious that three precious days of the 14-day limit for parties to file their processes at the highest court have been wasted by the Appeal Court.
“We wish to remind the PEPC that it struck out the testimonies of some of the witnesses of Atiku during the litigation at the court of first instance because their statements on oath were filed out of time.
“And now, from all intents and purposes, the same court wants to have Atiku and PDP’s appeal to the Supreme Court disqualified by the reason of time deadline.
“Does the PEPC not understand that the lawyers representing Atiku/PDP need to digest the judgment as contained in the CTC which represents the authentic pronouncements made in court on Wednesday in order to formulate its case for filing?” Shaibu queried.
He said further that, “there can be no justification for the PEPC not making available the CTC of its so-called judgement for Atiku to continue with his quest on behalf of over 200 million Nigerians for substantial justice as opposed to the judgement rendered by the PEPC.
“It is curious that the same PEPC that claimed that the judgement was ready as at the time it was delivered on Wednesday is still grappling with typos and errors, according to available information. Why did the PEPC not wait till next week to deliver the judgment as it would still have met the legal deadline instead of rushing to render a judgement which text is still undergoing panel beating?
“It is anti democratic of the court to steal, already at the last count, 3 precious days out of the 14-day time limit for Atiku to file his processes at the Supreme Court. The lost time would never be recovered,” he said.