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CJN to establish Supreme Court panel as PDP, LP file appeal

Barring any last-minute change in plan, the Chief Justice of Nigeria, Justice Olukayode Ariwoola, will constitute the Supreme Court panel that will hear the appeal arising from the judgment of the Presidential Election Petitions Court latest on Wednesday.

Bola Tinubu of the All Progressives Congress was declared the victor of the presidential election held on February 25, 2023, by the PEPC on Wednesday, September 6, 2023, in a 12-hour ruling on the appeals related to that election.

Atiku Abubakar, the candidate for the Peoples Democratic Party, and Peter Obi, the candidate for the Labour Party, both rejected the court’s ruling and promised to appeal to the Supreme Court.

They had 14 days from the day the judgment was delivered to file their appeal at the apex court.

That 14-day timeline ends on Wednesday.

While their legal teams are working hard to beat the deadline, an investigation by Saturday PUNCH at the Supreme Court on Friday revealed that Ariwoola had yet to constitute the panel of the apex court that will hear the appeals.

Further investigation, however, further revealed that the CJN will constitute the panel latest on Wednesday when the timeline for the filing of the appeals will end.

Read Also: CJN swears in Chief Judge of FCT, five judges of Sharia Court

Multiple sources at the apex court also said the identities of the Justices that may be named members of the panel were still unknown.

One of the sources at the court said, “There is no information about the panel or the justices that would make up the panel for now. What we know is that members of the panel may be named this week, latest by Wednesday.”

It was also learned on Friday that Obi’s legal team may file an appeal on Tuesday.

The spokesman of the Obi-Datti Presidential Campaign Council, Yunusa Tanko; and the National Legal Adviser of LP, Kehinde Edun, disclosed these in separate interviews.

“I just confirmed that we have not filed the appeal. That will be done between now and Tuesday. We are also not seeking to engage or tweak our team of lawyers,” Tanko told one of our correspondents on the telephone.

Agreeing with Tanko, the party’s legal adviser also said, “We have not filed the appeal yet because we are still within the time frame. It will be done any moment from now.

Meanwhile, the Deputy National Youth Leader of the PDP, Timothy Osadolor, has advised the CJN not to be part of the panel of the Supreme Court that will review the PEPC judgment.

Osadolor stated this against the backdrop of a statement credited to the CJN in the past, endorsing Oyo State Governor, Seyi Makinde’s membership of the G-5, a group made up of some aggrieved governors opposed to Iyorchia Ayu’s chairmanship of the PDP after Atiku emerged as the party’s candidate.

In November 2022 as a special guest of the Rivers State Government in Port Harcourt at a banquet organised in honor of the then Governor, Nyesom Wike; Justice Ariwoola lauded Makinde’s membership of G-5; a development that was criticized by the National Working Committee of the PDP at the time.

Tinubu, Atiku, and Obi will be retaining the 89 Senior Advocates of Nigeria they hired for the legal battle.

Ahead of the sittings of the PEPC, Aiku hired 19 SANs, Obi secured the services of 20 SANs while Tinubu engaged 50, making a total of 89.

Just like in the case of Obi and Atiku, the coordinator of the Tinubu Presidential Legal Team, Babatunde Ogala, in an interview with one of our correspondents said the President’s legal team would be retained. “Why do we have to change our lawyers? We don’t need any fresh people. We have more than enough lawyers in our legal team,” Ogala said.

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