It is misleading to claim that the Judgment of the Presidential Election Petitions Tribunal was drafted by Tinubu’s lawyers just because it had the TPLT watermark on it.
Claim: A Screenshot of the Presidential Election Tribunal’s Judgement bearing the Watermark of Tinubu’s Presidential Legal Team is circulating online claiming that the judgment was crafted by Tinubu’s Lawyers.
Full Text: The watermarked copy had been a subject of controversy especially on social media with critics alleging a sinister move.
The screenshot was accompanied by the following text, “The brilliant judgement was crafted for them. Copy and past they forgot to clean out the document title, just as they omitted 25% Abuja ”
There have been mixed reactions over the Wednesday judgment of the Presidential Election Petition Tribunal.
The verdict of the Presidential Election Petition Tribunal dismissed the petitions of the presidential candidates of the Peoples Democratic Party, Abubakar Atiku, and Labour Party Peter Obi, and the Allied Peoples Movement, challenging the declaration of Bola Tinubu of the All Progressives Congress, APC, winner of the February 25 presidential poll and upheld the election of President Bola Tinubu.
Some lawyers on Thursday said the judgment delivered by the Presidential Election Petition Court (PEPC) on Wednesday was full of reviews and deep explanations.
The lawyers said contrary to expectations that the court would only do a partial review of the cases before delivering judgement, the justices did a thorough analysis of the judgement.
They said the justices did a thorough job to the extent that some senior lawyers representing parties were chided for inadequacies in their research to build their clients’ cases.
Verification: An online search led PRNigeria fact checkers to a denial issued by Tinubu’s Presidential Legal Team (TPLT).
The TPLT coordinator, Babatunde Ogala, in a statement explained that they watermarked their copy of the judgment after collection from the Court of Appeal before circulating the scanned copies to members of their team.
“After the delivery of judgment in the 3 (Three) election petitions by the Court of Appeal on September 6, 2023, the Court directed its registry to make physical copies of same available on September 7, 2023.
“Accordingly, the Tinubu Presidential Legal Team applied for a Certified True Copy of the said judgment and paid the prescribed fee.
“Lawyers for PDP were present at the registry at the same time to collect the same judgment.
“In fact, the representative of the PDP collected the first copy that was made available by the registry.” The statement read in part.
With the observation that a certified through copy of the judgment without the watermarks was displayed on Arise TV Prime Time news by a TPLT Lawyer, PRNigeria fact checkers visited the official website of the Appeal Court to access an e-copy of the judgment.
An assessment of the consolidated copy of the judgment obtained on the official website of the court has no watermarks of any party on either the header or footer contrary to the copy circulating online with the TPLT watermark.
It was also observed that while the consolidated copy was duly signed and stamped by the Secretary of the Presidential Election Petition Court 2023 – JJ Ekperobe Esq dated September 8, 2023 the copy circulating online had the authourised payment stamp of the tribunal which indicates that the required fee of N10,000 was duly paid at the registry to obtain it, substantiating claims that the copy in question was actually the property of whoever had paid the given fee.
PRNigeria further used detection tools for detecting deleted items on the court’s website to ascertain if there was any previously deleted copy prior to the copy of the judgment that is now accessible on the Court’s official website.
Using Wayback Machine, a platform that captures and saves snapshots of thousands of websites regularly, currently, hosting a mind-boggling 818 billion web pages, making us believe that nothing gets deleted from the internet, PRNigeria fact checkers entered the URL of the Court but there was no old version of snapshot that suggestion anything was deleted on the page recently.
PRNigeria then cross referenced same URL with Archive Today, another website that displays all the snapshots of that website in reverse chronological order, and the results returned the same.
Conclusion: Available evidences point to the fact that the inscription generating controversy on the copy of the tribunal judgment circulating online was a ‘watermark’ the TPLT made on its own copies of the court judgment.
PRNigeria therefore concludes that the claim that the Judgment of the Presidential Election Petitions Tribunal was drafted for it by Tinubu’s Lawyers because it had the TPLT watermark on it is MISLEADING.
For more, check PRNigeria Fact-Check