Nigeria’s Supreme Court is expected to today (Monday) hear an appeal by vice president Atiku Abubakar over whether the Independent Electoral Commission (INEC) can bar the vice president from running in Saturday’s presidential election. The court was supposed to hear the case last Thursday, but the federal government declared last Thursday and Friday public holidays, which forced the court to postpone the hearing. Rickey Tarfa is the lead attorney for Vice President Atiku Abubakar.
Rickey Tarfa is the lead attorney for Vice President Atiku Abubakar. From the capital, Abuja, he told VOA that they surprised with the holidays which forced the Supreme Court to hold the hearing today (Monday).
“Curiously, the federal government on Wednesday, a day before the hearing of the case declared both Thursday and Friday as public holidays. So what we did was to approach the Supreme Court in the light of this development, and the Supreme Court now gave us today for the hearing of this appeal,” he said.
Tarfa said the Supreme Court’s decision would determine whether INEC has the power to bar the vice president from running in the upcoming presidential elections.
“The appeal will determine the extent of powers of the Independent National Electoral Commission, to disqualify any candidate from election without having regard to the recourse to a court of law,” Garfa noted.
He said the Supreme Court changed the its proceedings because of lack of time.
“Ordinarily, you are supposed to write what we call briefs of argument, then you adopt the briefs of argument. But the Supreme Court has dispensed with the need to file such a brief in view of the issue of time, because obviously, the person who has appealed would want time to file his brief, our briefs are ready, but the other side will say well, we need time and then he might probably ask for much more days. And the time the appeal would be held, it wouldn’t be relevant for the purpose for which it is desire,” he said.
Tarfa weighs in on the vice president’s appeals case today.
“What we expecting is that if the appeal is taken, the Supreme Court may give their judgment and then adjourn top give their reasons at a much later date or they could ask us to come either the following day or a day after for them to give their judgment in respect of the appeal,” he said.
He said he believes that INEC does not have the power to disqualify the vice president.
“You know, there are two cases, one when we filed this case, the issue at stake then was when the verification was clean out of disqualifying candidates which was started by INEC, we felt they did not have the power, that was what constituted this particular cause of action. Now, when the vice president was excluded from contesting for the election, we also approached the federal high court…this court went into the merits of that disqualification and found out that there was no good reason why the vice president should be disqualified,” he said.
Tarfa said he is optimistic the law would enable the vice president to be part of the presidential election.
“As at today, unless if there is other good reason, the position of the law, the decision of the court has enabled the vice president to stand for an election. We can’t understand the reason why INEC is not placing him on the election list coming up next Saturday,” he pointed out.