Robert Clarke, a Senior Advocate of Nigeria (SAN), says the lawyers who represented the Labour Party and the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in suits challenging President Bola Tinubu’s election did not display a good sense of legal practice.
The Supreme Court of Nigeria on Thursday affirmed the election of President Tinubu in the 2023 election.
The apex court affirmed Tinubu’s victory after it dismissed the appeals filed by the PDP, the Labour Party, and their candidates, Atiku Abubakar and Peter Obi respectively.
Speaking during an interview on a Channels Television programme on Thursday, Clarke said the lawyers did not do enough.
He advised the parties to sit down, reorganise and get good hands to look after their affairs.
Clark said that Labour Party never won the election on any grounds, adding that its candidate did not have the highest number of votes or the votes of 25% of all the 36 states.
He said, “The party should sit down, reorganize themselves, get good hands to look after their affairs, get better people who can seek out information for them. Because if you don’t bring a matter to the court, the court will not help you, the court is not a Father Christmas.
“If Atiku had Tinubu’s dossier those years, 20 years ago and did not bring it and now wants to blame the Supreme Court, ‘haba!’ I think they are overblowing everything. We are not all foolish, let them do their work well first; once they do their work then we may join them in fighting on their behalf but on the matter of this appeal, the PDP has no point at all. They didn’t do their homework before coming to the court – definitely, not within the jurisdictional conference of the Nigerian court.
“Let us be honest with ourselves, lawyers do not manufacture evidence. If evidence is available and they are aware of the evidence, their lawyers should have worked higher than what they have done now. You have assembled all these facts.
“Failure one, to assemble the facts at all because they never brought these facts and bringing these facts now at the time that the courts have finished with the original matter.”
“I don’t see why they could even think of bringing such a matter in directly to the Supreme Court,” he said.
“Their lapses are so much, they have not done a thorough job, I am sorry to say this. If not that this is politics we are talking about, no lawyer will be so tardy as to know what the law is, refuse to do what the law says he should do and still believe that the law on its own can assume jurisdiction, in which it is clear that it has no power to do.
“I am not saying they fumbled the case, what I am saying is that they have not displayed a good sense of legal practice. They knew and God bless all of us, we don’t work for money alone we work for prestige, we work on the facts and we ensure that the law carries the day if it has to.”
He continued, “I will not allow any junior in my chambers, even one or two years old to carry such a brief to go and argue in a court. When I have looked into all the facts, and the facts are very clear, there’s a limitation of time, wherein election matters, you can or you cannot do certain things.
“They had the opportunity as a pre-election matter, they never brought it out, they had the opportunity as a matter within the tribunal’s case, they never brought it. They are now coming and bringing matters that should have been argued in the lower tribunal, and where the Supreme Court will now be receiving such evidence as an appellate matter and not as an original jurisdictional matter. I am sorry to say, the lawyers have not done enough.”
Talking about the Labour Party chieftains who have expressed the belief that their mandate was stolen by Tinubu and the APC, he said, “What has been stolen? Is it by electoral decision? The Labour Party never won the election on any grounds. They did not have the highest votes, they did not have the votes of the 25% of all the 36 states. Then what has been stolen? They cannot steal what you don’t have, they can only steal from you if you own it.”
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