Meet the justices that’ll determine Tinubu, Atiku, Obi’s case at the presidential election tribunal
Hearing for the petitions challenging the outcome of the 2023 Presidential election began on Monday, May 8, 2023. The panel which will hear and decide the case against the presidential candidate of the All Progressives Congress and winner of the 2023 presidential polls, Bola Tinubu is made up of panel of five justices.
Atiku Abubakar of the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP; and Peter Obi of the Labour Party, are the two frontline presidential candidates challenging the declaration of Tinubu by the Independent Electoral Commission, INEC, as winner of the election.
Below are the profiles of the five justices.
Justice Haruna Tsammani
Born in 1959 in Gombe State and attended Bayero University in Kano, where he earned a Bachelor of Law degree in 1982. He earned a Master of Law degree from the Ahmadu Bello University in Zaria.
Justice Tsammani began his legal career in 1983 as a Pupil State Counsel in the Bauchi State Ministry of Justice and later moved to the Ministry of Justice in Gombe State, where he served as Director of Public Prosecutions. In 1999, he was appointed as a Judge of the High Court of Gombe State.
Tsammani has presided over various election and financial matters as a judge. One of the cases is a petition filed by the former Governor of Oyo State, late Abiola Ajimobi, challenging the judgment of the 2019 Election Petition Tribunal which had on November 19 same year upheld PDP’s Kola Balogun as the winner of the senatorial election for Oyo South held on February that year.
In 2021, the jurist chaired a three-man Court of Appeal panel that ordered Lagos and Rivers state governments to stop the collection of Value Added Tax, VAT, in their states.
Tsammani also suspended the operation of the law passed by the Rivers State House of Assembly and assented to by Nyesom Wike, the governor of the state, for the collection, during the ruling.
On October 28, 2022, he stopped the execution of his earlier judgment which faulted the rendition of Nnamdi Kanu from Kenya to Nigeria and also set aside the terrorism charges against him.
Justice Tsammani in a ruling upheld the application of the Federal Government and ordered that the execution of the judgment be put on hold.
In a brief ruling, Tsammani held that the counter affidavit filed against the Federal Government’s application by Kanu’s legal team was misleading.
Justice Stephen Adah
Justice Stephen Adah, born on June 13, 1957, hails from the Dekina Local Government Area of Kogi State. He is the presiding Justice of the Asaba Division of the Court of Appeal. Justice Adah has been an Appeal Court judge since November 2012. Before this, he was a Federal High Court judge for 14 years.
On March 2020, Justice Adah affirmed Ifeanyi Ubah as the lawmaker representing Anambra South Senatorial District, voiding a previous judgement of the High Court of the Federal Capital Territory, FCT, which had sacked him.
In July 2020, the jurist upheld the no-case submission filed by former President Goodluck Jonathan’s cousin, Robert Azibaola, in an alleged $40 million fraud and money laundering trial and held that the prosecution failed to establish a prima facie case against the defendants.
Read also: Tinubu: Court adjourns hearing on Peter Obi’s petition till May 10
On December 16, 2020, Adah led a three-man appeal court panel that set aside the indictments delivered against Sambo Dasuki, a former National Security Adviser, by Federal High Court in Abuja. In an unanimous decision, the Adah-led panel held that the Federal High Court made damaging comments against Dasuki without giving him a fair hearing.
Justice Misturat Bolaji-Yusuf
Mistura Bolaji-Yusuf was born on August 7, 1959 and hails from the Oyo West Local Government Area of Oyo State. She obtained her LL.B degree from the Obafemi Awolowo University, Ile-Ife in 1983. She attended the Nigerian Law School the following year for her BL Certificate.
Bolaji-Yusuf served s Judge of the High Court of Oyo State for 17 years before her eventual elevation to a Court of Appeal judge on March 24, 2014.
Earlier in her career in 2006, Justice Bolaji-Yusuf Justice Bolaji-Yusuf had stirred the hornet’s nest in the celebrated ruling of January 12, 2006 when she invalidated the actions taken by the Oyo state’s acting Chief Judge, Afolabi Adeniran, which led to the impeachment of the former governor, Senator Rasheed Ladoja.
In 2016, Justice Bolaji-Yusuf was in the panel of Appeal Court justices that set the judicial precedent that an unsigned document is worthless in the face of the law. Justice Bolaji-Yusuf was also on the panel of appeal court judges that ruled in favour of candidates of the Obaseki-faction of the Edo State PDP that participated in the just concluded 2023 Elections.
Justice Boloukuoromo Moses Ugo
Boloukuoromo Moses Ugo was born on June 7, 1965. He hails from the Kolokuma/Opokuma Local Government Area of Bayelsa State. Afer obtaining his LL.B degree from the University of Calabar in 1989, hewas appointed a judge of the High Court of Bayelsa State on March 21, 2006, and later elevated to the Court of Appeal on March 24, 2014. He is ranked 44th on the roll call of the Court of Appeal.
Justice Abba-Bello Mohammed
Abba Bello Mohammed was born on February 19, 1961. Mohammed obtained his LL.B degree from the Institute of Administration, Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria, Kaduna State, in 1984. A year later, he received his BL certificate at the Nigerian Law School in Lagos. A Kano State indigene, he became a judge at the Federal High Court in Abuja on July 15, 2010. He later became a Court of Appeal judge on June 28, 2021. He is ranked 71st on the roll call of the Court of Appeal.
In 2018, Jstice Abba-Bello Muhammad dismissed the suit filed by the then Inspector-General of Police, Ibrahim Idris, alleging violation of his fundamental human rights by the Senate.
Mr Idris had approached the court seeking a declaration that the investigative activities of the Senate Ad-Hoc Committee breached his rights as the Head of the Police Force.
But Justice Abba-Bello held that the suit lacked merit as Section 88 and 89 of Nigeria’s Constitution empowers the lawmakers to carry out investigations on issues of public interest.
Justice Mohammed presided over the Nasarawa State Governorship Election Tribunal in 2019.
The PDP governorship candidate in the 2019 general elections, David Ombugadu had sued INEC and Governor Abdulahi Sule of the APC.
But Justice Mohammed dismissed the petition for lacking in merit and so thereby dismissed, holding that the petition’s allegation of overvoting and electoral violence could not be substantiated.