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Phrank Shaibu, an aide to former Vice-President Atiku Abubakar, says the presidential election petitions tribunal should explain why “Tinubu Presidential Legal Team” is marked on the certified true copy (CTC) of the judgement.
On Wednesday, the tribunal affirmed President Bola Tinubu’s victory at the February polls.
In a statement on Saturday, Shaibu said the “inscription on the CTC” suggests that the tribunal accorded special privileges to Tinubu’s legal team.
“It is very clear that there are many questions begging for answers, including why the PEPC came to the decision to avail the respondents, especially the Tinubu Legal Team to have a first receipt of the CTC of the judgement before the plaintiffs,” he said.
“Nigerians want to know why the PEPC confers special privileges to the Tinubu Legal Team by making them have a first custody of copies of the PEPC judgement, even though it was more urgent for the petitioners who needed the document in order to cause an appeal to the Supreme Court within 14 days including weekends.
“In the course of delivering its judgement, the PEPC had spoken of the petition it was ruling upon in a vexatious and denigrating language as if it was a crime to bring a case of electoral banditry before the court.”
Shaibu said the inscription at the top left-hand corner of the 798-page document is neither a monochrome nor a metadata.
“It is actually a HEADER, meaning that except for a valid explanation, the Tinubu Presidential Legal Team is the originator of the document. For the purposes of clarity, a header is text that is placed at the top of a page, while a footer is placed at the bottom of a page,” the aide said.
“Typically, these areas are used for inserting information such as the name of the document, the chapter heading, page numbers, creation date, and the like.
“On the other hand, watermark is a faint design made in some paper during manufacture that is visible when held against the light and typically identifies the maker of the document.”
He said by challenging Tinubu’s victory, Atiku is making a last-ditch effort to “salvage our country and deepen our democracy”.
TINUBU’S LEGAL TEAM: ORIGINAL CTC HAS NO WATERMARK
Reacting to the development, Babatunde Ogala, coordinator of Tinubu’s legal team, described the controversy over the watermark as mischievous.
“After the delivery of judgment in the 3 (Three) election petitions by the Court of Appeal on September 6, 2023, the Court directed its registry to make physical copies of same available on September 7, 2023,” Ogala said.
“Accordingly, the Tinubu Presidential Legal Team applied for a certified true copy of the said judgment and paid the prescribed fee. Lawyers for PDP were present at the registry at the same time to collect the same judgment.
“In fact, the representative of the PDP collected the first copy that was made available by the registry. On collecting our own copy, we immediately scanned and water-marked with the inscription – “Tinubu Presidential Legal Team ‘TPLT’” before circulating the scanned soft copies to the lawyers in our team.
“The certified true copies issued to us and other parties in the petitions by the registry do not contain the said inscription and any insinuation to the contrary is untrue.
“Counsel to the petitioners will also appreciate the fact that the insinuations being circulated in some quarters are untrue, unkind, unfair, and unfortunate, as they have the same certified copies of the judgment as we have.”