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Nwabueze faults Supreme Court’s decision on Atiku, PDP’s appeal

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Elder statesman, Prof Ben Nwabueze has described the handling of the appeal lodged by former Vice President Atiku Abubakar against President Muhammadu Buhari’s victory as a farce and not a valid hearing and determination.
 
He based his argument on the Chief Justice of Nigeria (CJN) Justice Tanko Muhammad’s statement, which said: “We have examined all the briefs of argument and the exhibits for over two weeks and we have all agreed that there is no merit in this appeal.”
 
Nwabueze said the examination referred to in the CJN’s statement was not held in public, as required by section 36 (3) of the Constitution, which makes secret hearings and trials abhorrent to democracy.

The apex court’s decision to dismiss the appeal for lacking merits, he stressed, “is a law within the meaning of section 1 of the Constitution and, being inconsistent with section 36 of the Constitution, it is, by the self-executing declaration in section 1(3), null and void.

He said: “The Chief Justice of Nigeria (CJN), Justice Tanko Muhammad, was reported in the Vanguard newspaper of October 31 2019 to have made the above statement. The important point to emphasise about the CJN’s statement is that the decision dismissing the appeal as lacking merits was not taken at the sitting of the Supreme Court on October 30, 2019.

“The decision had been taken during an examination of “all the briefs of argument and exhibits for over two weeks” before the sitting on October 30 2019.
“The question arising is: to whom does the word “We” in the CJN’s statement refer? Can the “We” be a reference to the Supreme Court? Can the Supreme Court function as regards the hearing of the appeal before the seven-man panel to hear the appeal was appointed and the names of the members announced to the public? When exactly was the appointment of members made?

“The Vanguard newspaper report of October 31 2019 contained the further statement to the effect that “the CJN announced a brief stand-down to reconstitute the panel.”“This further statement introduces an element of mystery as to when the panel was appointed. It may be taken that the panel was appointed on October 30, when it was reconstituted according to the CJN. The issues before us are governed by section 36 of the Constitution…”


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