EVIDENCE & THE ELECTION TRIBUNAL: A RESPONSE TO AKIN

Wednesday, March 5, 2008

In my last post, Yar'Adua Holds On To Aso Rock, I posed the following questions:

what evidence was lacking in this Presidential Election case to deprive the Tribunal of the information it needed to fully examine the case? And why, was this evidence unavailable?
Discussing the evidence issue, a reader, Akin, commented that evidence from only 4 out of 36 states was presented to the Tribunal for consideration. He went on to point out that,
"... Buhari/Atiku have a case, but they need to present overwhelming evidence to overturn the election in a situation where the numbers would make a difference, they probably need to do that with evidence from at least 32 states to shift the 70% Yar'Adua was purported to have taken."
I agree with Akin that Buhari, Atiku, and their respective legal teams should have coalesced enough evidence to make a stronger case. The question I was trying to raise in my last piece with regards to evidence is WHY they failed to provide such evidence.

No lawyer worth a grain of salt will enter a court room with inadequate evidence unless they absolutely had no choice. I choose to assume that Buhari and Atiku hired the best possible lawyers that their millions could buy and that these lawyers are more than competent. So, why did they not have the necessary evidence to present a persuasive case?

As I do not have a crystal ball and I also do not have a direct phone number for either of these attorneys, I can only speculate that one of the reasons why they did not have this evidence is because it was not made available to them in the discovery process. By that, I mean that INEC and other necessary parties may not have provided all necessary evidence. After all, in order for the plaintiffs to make their case, they must have relied heavily on evidence that only INEC could have provided. Additionally, the necessary evidence might simply no longer exist as we know that various hoodlums 'hijacked' and absconded with poll results and God only knows how many other ways poll boxes and ballots disappeared or were destroyed. Or, it could be as simple as Imnakoya, at Grandiose Parlor, calls it - a matter of incompetency.

I bring up these issues because in order to have a credible review process, plaintiffs have to have access to the evidence. Thus, there will need to be stricter requirements (and overview) for the retention of all documents which could eventually become evidence in such Tribunal reviews. I can only hope that the next election process will go better and that if there is a challenge of the results, the necessary information from every state will be available so that justice is not limited.



Please take the time to read Imnakoya's post on the Tribunal's decision.
Hattip to African Loft for providing an audio copy of the Tribunal's decision.



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Akin said...

Hello,

Once again I sympathise with the view that the evidence might be inaccessible due to all sorts of circumstances.

This means the lawyers have to find ingenious ways of presenting a credible case.

Just like in murder cases that get solved in detective series, you usually do not have the murderer giving the detective the blow-by-blow account of what they did.

So, the lawyers have to tease, badger, persuade, trap, cajole, whatever to get at the truth, they probably have to catch INEC out - get Iwu to take the stand and get the returning officials to state their activities etc. etc.

And I am still of the opinion, if the petitioners present the same case to the Supreme Court, it would fail.

imnakoya said...

"Law of evidence not weight of sentiment" - this caption on Akin's blog speaks volumes to Atiku/Buhari case.

Four out of 36 states argued; little or no forensic evidence provided; overpaid, sloppy lawyers running the show, etc. These are not the sort of efforts that yield desirable results in a case seeking to overturn a presidential election.

The ruling though was painful, but wasn't all together unexpected. If the plaintiff lawyers in some state tribunals (ondo, Edo and Osun) have deployed all available resources (fingerprint forensics, video, scanned ballot materials, expert witnesses, etc) to make their cases; Atiku and Buhari's approach shouldn't be different, but more potent.

There is one positive message from the ruling though:

The failure of Atiku/Buhari to make good their cases despite the general awareness of electoral fraud is a clear indication that they aren't fit to lead, and certainly not ready to be president over 140 million ethnically diverse people living in a region fraught with decades of protracted economic and socio-political problems. Case closed!

PS: Thanks for the links to GP and AL!

wellsbaba said...

well i totally agree with akin but i hav dis view2share....i spoke with a top politician in canada who is nigerian by birth,he told me all dat tribunal is a charade n dat the "govt" has shut buhari n atiku not2make much noise n made em a deal behind closed doors....he said if really they want d election cancelled they need2stick2their guns,no compromises n the international community wud come to their aid n press4an annulment of d election.....jst lyk its happenin in kenya right now!
im new2bloggin n i hope u wud checkme out2 wellsbaba.blogspot.com

SOLOMONSYDELLE said...

Absolutely, the plaintiffs cannot simply rely on INEC for evidence to make their case. However, the legal system (and thus justice) is only as good as the structure put into place to make said system fair and accessible. If the discovery system is broken, evidence will disappear and cases will get thrown out for inadequate evidence. Then serious distrust of the system sets in and we surely don't need that.

But, I agree with you wholeheartedly, if they try to present this case with the same or similar evidence, they will surely lose again at the Supreme Court. Thanks for pushing this conversation further and forcing me to look deeper at the case.

@ Imnakoya: Case closed indeed! When you put it like that there is no reason to give either of these men the time of day. This inability to tackle this problem efficiently speaks volumes, considering what we all know about the elections. Well said, I can only concur.

@ Wellsbaba: it is always exciting to see a new name here. Welcome! And, the juicy conspiracy theory you have shared with us brings absolute joy to my heart! Yes, it is quite possible that there were several deals made in smoke filled back rooms. Who knows? But, if one were to assume that was the case then the failure to present a solid case could definitely be explained.

Your friend's suggestion that the plaintiffs 'tough it out' in hope of a UN-brokered solution akin to Kenya, is interesting as well. However, I am staunchly against foreign bodies intervening in Nigerian matters, though I understand the need for such interference on some occasions. I am torn between my pride- wanting the President and the Republic to stand above everyone else - and the reality - sometimes, a gentle push or hard shove from the outside can be positive. Let me ponder this point you have made. May I engage you on this issue some more? I hope you say yes.

Welcome to Nigerian Curiosity and don't be a stranger. Will swing by your side, right now...

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