The legal dispute over the results of the February 25 presidential election between the Labour Party, Peoples Democratic Party, and the governing All Progressives Congress has assumed a new dimension as a result of reports that a combined team of 89 Senior Advocates of Nigeria have been hired.
The array of legal luminaries, pulled from various chambers, are reportedly receiving materials that could be presented as proof in court, according to sources within the camp of the warring political parties.
According to The reports, the Independent National Electoral Commission declared APC candidate Bola Tinubu the victor of the hotly contested race.
Atiku Abubakar, the candidate for the Peoples Democratic Party, and the LP flag-bearer, who received 6,984,520 and 6,101,533 votes respectively, were defeated by the former Lagos governor who had 8,794,726 votes.
Atiku and Obi, however, disagreed with the INEC-announced results, asserting during separate press conferences that there was significant violence and rigging during the election.
Last Friday, the drama reportedly took a turn when it was reported that the two main opposition candidates had approached the court to request permission to examine the voting materials.
A few days later, Tinubu's team also asked the court for permission to access the aforementioned electoral materials in order to check them for any potential violations by the opposition.
Atiku's camp revealed on Wednesday that it had gathered 19 SANs to contest the election findings.
The former vice president instructed his legal team to "establish the claim of illegality in the February 25 presidential election and reclaim the mandate of the Nigerian people" while briefing them on Wednesday at his campaign headquarters in Abuja.
He advised the group that in addition to reclaiming the mandate from those who carried out the fraudulent election, the legal team should take advantage of the trial's chance to strengthen the nation's constitutional democracy.
18 other Senior Advocates of Nigeria (SANs) are on the squad, which is headed by JK Gadzama.
They include Chris Uche, Paul Usoro, Tayo Jegede, Ken Mozia, Mike Ozekhome, Mahmood Magaji, Joe Abraham, Chukwuma Umeh, Garba Tetengi and Emeka Etiaba.
Others are Chief Goddy Uche, Prof. Maxwell Gidado; the National Legal Adviser of the PDP, A. Ajibade, Mr. O. Atoyebi, Mrs. Nella Rabana, Paul Ogbole, Nuremi Jimoh, and Abdul Ibrahim.
After the meeting, Phrank Shaibu, Atiku's Special Assistant on Public Communication, said to our reporter, "Atiku raised a team of 19 Senior Advocates of Nigeria. What are you doing with 50 lawyers after claiming to have won the poll, Tinubu?
“It is imperative that they work assiduously towards reclaiming the mandate, not necessarily because of him (Atiku) and the PDP, but to strengthen democracy and the electoral process and for generations unborn.”
89 SANs are now involved in the legal dispute and ready to outsmart one another for their clients as a result of the most recent development.
"We have more than 20 SANs that are willing to participate and offer their services for the renewal and emergence of a new Nigeria," Umar Farouk, the National Secretary of the Labour Party, declared this. "Our attorneys are working on it as we speak."
"However, this is not a topic that belongs in a journal. We have begun 'trekking' to the court, is all I can say," he added.
The APC has stated that it is prepared to defend its victory in court, as was to be anticipated.
A strong group of seasoned attorneys were appointed by the governing party on Tuesday to represent the incoming president.
Twelve SANs made up the legal squad, including Ahmad El-Marzuq, the Party's national legal adviser.
El-Marzuq claimed in a statement titled "APC Appoints Presidential Election Petition Legal Team" that the legal elites were meticulously chosen based on their extensive knowledge of election petition issues, constitutional law, and litigation.
Their selection came a few days after Festus Keyamo, the chief spokesperson for the Tinubu-Shettima Presidential Campaign Council, declared that Tinubu and his team would not be intimidated by the opposition's judicial threat.
El-Marzuq also revealed that Prince Lateef Fagbemi, a renowned attorney who has effectively handled numerous high-profile election matters and other landmark cases, would be leading the team of SANs.
The PCC Director of Media and Publicity, Bayo Onanuga, told one of our reporters on Wednesday that the total number of legal luminaries on their side had increased to 50 as of the time this report was filed.
Onanuga also named the PCC counsel, Babatunde Ogala, and well-known legal luminary Wole Olaonipekun as heading the other APC team.
He said, “The earlier list released by the APC partially just reflect the lawyers who will be involved in the case. It does not capture the full picture. I am aware, for instance, that Wole Olaonipekun is the leader of the team. And of course, the man who has been representing Asiwaju all these while in the court, Babatunde Ogala, is also a member of the team.