The panel was silent on how the president’s manifest perjury should be remedied, especially as the Nigerian Constitution forbids making false submissions to the electoral office.
The Presidential Election Petitions Tribunal said it dismissed the evidence of dual citizenship and perjury against President Bola Tinubu because Atiku Abubakar introduced the matter at a time when the president’s lawyers could no longer respond, which the justices deemed to be an “unfair tactic” that would not be tolerated.
According to the full opinion released by the Court of Appeal, Mr Abubakar alleged Mr Tinubu was unqualified to contest the presidency without providing any details to buttress the allegation in his initial petition but later “smuggled in the new facts” of Guinean citizenship hiding under the phrase “further details” when there were no details given in the first instance.
“It is now through their Reply that Petitioners, who themselves seemed to have had no clear idea of what they meant by 2nd Respondent’s non-qualification for the election or simply deliberately kept it back when filing their petition, want to now introduce through their Reply at a time when respondents have no further right of responding to them,” the court held in the September 6 decision. “Such unfair tactics cannot, and is not, allowed by our law.”
The five-member panel said that the matter of Guinean citizenship was a fact that should have been presented as a separate petition rather than as a response to Mr Tinubu’s defence, scolding the former vice-president’s lawyers as being “clever by half” when they introduced the passport that Mr Tinubu obtained from a foreign country. The passport surfaced after Mr Tinubu had already said under oath that he had never obtained foreign citizenship while submitting his application to run for president.
“The petitioners were only being clever by half when they claimed in paragraph 2.1 (b) of their Reply that they were simply giving, as they put it, ‘further details’ of the non-qualification of 2nd respondent by averring to the conviction, fine, certificate forgery and dual citizenship of 2nd Respondent that they raised in their Replies,” the judges said.