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.
The PEPC had on Wednesday, September 6, 2023, delivered a 12-hour judgment on the appeals arising from the February 25, 2023 presidential election, upholding the election of President Bola Tinubu of the All Progressives Congress.
The presidential candidates of the Peoples Democratic Party and Labour Party, Atiku Abubakar and Peter Obi respectively rejected the court’s judgment, vowing to approach 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.
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.”
Saturday PUNCH also learnt on Friday that Obi’s legal team may file an appeal on Tuesday.
Our correspondents further gathered that the presidential candidate is not planning to change members of his legal team.
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 with Saturday PUNCH.
“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.
“To answer your other question, our legal team is still intact. They are some of our best hands. There is no reason to change them since we do not doubt their capabilities.”
When contacted, Obi’s lead counsel, Dr Livy Uzoukwu, also said the legal team was still working on the appeal, saying, “We are on it. We have not fixed a date to submit.”
A member of Atiku’s legal team, Mike Ozekhome, SAN, also said, “We are filing the appeal as soon as possible, within the constitutional and statutory period. All the lawyers are retained. Our team is intact and as solid as the Rock of Gibraltar.”
The ex-vice president’s lead counsel, Chris Uche, SAN, could not be reached for comment as calls and messages to his line were not answered on Friday.