Renowned legal expert and former Chairman of the Nigerian Bar Association, Monday Ubani, has provided insights into the challenges facing the admission of fresh evidence in the appeal of the presidential election petition tribunal’s judgment, particularly in the context of the case initiated by the presidential candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Atiku Abubakar, in the United States.
Dr. Monday Onyekachi Ubani extends warm felicitations to Nigeria on its 63rd Independence Anniversary.
Atiku had sought the release of President Bola Tinubu’s academic certificate from the Chicago State University, raising doubts about the authenticity of the certification submitted by the President to the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC).
Speaking during an interview on Channels Television’s Sunrise Daily, Ubani underscored the rarity of admitting fresh evidence by appellate courts, emphasizing that such evidence should ideally have been available during the initiation of the legal process.
The Challenge of Admitting Fresh Evidence
He explained, “The Supreme Court, and even the Court of Appeal, rarely admit fresh evidence because their primary function is to review lower courts’ decisions and not to re-evaluate evidence. They do not typically receive new evidence unless special circumstances exist, such as when the evidence was unavailable when the case was filed.”
President Tinubu’s legal team had resisted Atiku’s request to release his academic records. However, a U.S. court eventually ordered CSU to provide Atiku with the President’s academic records for his appeal to the Supreme Court.
Navigating Legal Complexities
Ubani pointed out the substantial challenge facing Atiku’s legal team in convincing the Supreme Court to admit fresh evidence, as the court’s primary role is to review the lower court’s decision. The admissibility of new evidence is critical, and it typically faces opposition from the opposing party.
He elaborated, “Convincing the court to admit fresh evidence is a formidable task, as the opposing party will vigorously oppose it. In such cases, the court must exercise its discretionary power to determine whether or not to admit the fresh evidence.”
In conclusion, the potential admission of fresh evidence in the Supreme Court’s review of the election tribunal judgment remains a complex and contentious issue, hinging on the court’s discretionary power and the arguments put forth by the parties involved.
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