A Senior Advocate of Nigeria (SAN), Robert Clarke, has criticised the legal team of Atiku and Obi for not showing professionalism in challenging Tinubu’s victory.
The Supreme Court on Thursday affirmed the victory of President Bola Tinubu in the 2023 presidential election, dismissing the appeals of Atiku Abubakar and Peter Obi, the candidates of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and the Labour Party (LP) respectively.
The seven-judge panel of the apex court rejected all the grounds of appeal of Atiku and the PDP on qualification, non-compliance with the Electoral Act, the 25% votes in FCT, and electoral malpractices.
The court also dismissed the appeal of Obi and the LP over claims of fraud, electoral law violations, and Tinubu’s ineligibility to run for president.
He said on Channels Television’s Politics Today: “I am not saying they (Atiku, Obi’s lawyers) fumbled the case; what I am saying is that they have not displayed a good sense of legal practice.”
Clarke said that Atiku and Obi’s lawyers failed to exercise due diligence in their appeals, noting that they could have done better in their legal representation.
He said he would not even allow a junior lawyer in his chamber to present such a brief before the Supreme Court.
“Where the law is not allowed to put its heads up in a proceeding, it means that there is another law which prohibits their lawyers to have brought such. They know it, they still decided — either to please their supporters and allow such a matter to come before the Supreme Court,” he said.
He added that Atiku and Obi’s lawyers had the opportunity to present their evidence at a lower court but they did not.
“They had the opportunity as a pre-election matter but they never brought it out. They had the opportunity as a matter within a tribunal’s case but they never brought it. They are now coming and bringing matters that should have been argued in the lower tribunal and the Supreme Court will now be reviewing such evidence as an appellate matter and not as an original jurisdictional matter.”
“I am not blaming the lawyers; that is the last thing I would do, but I am sorry to say that the lawyers, with due respect to them, should have done a better job in this regard.
“As the Supreme Court said, if you have facts that were available before the trial started and you did not bring them into the trial court…Therefore, if you intend to use any evidence in the Supreme Court, you must have ensured that such evidence must have passed through the original jurisdiction of the lower court,” he said.