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FACT CHECK: Did three Supreme Court justices recuse themselves from election petition panel?



CLAIM: A viral post has claimed that three justices of the Supreme Court have recused themselves from the panel that would hear appeals from disgruntled presidential candidates, Atiku Abubakar and Peter Obi.



According to a viral post, three justices of the Supreme Court have recused themselves from the panel that would hear the appeals of presidential election petitioners, Peter Obi of the Labour Party and Atiku Abubakar of the People’s Democratic Party, whose petitions were dismissed by the Presidential Election Petition Tribunal at the Court of Appeal.

The post was published on blogs like this and social media platforms. It also
appeared on the popular Nigerian Microblogging platform, Nairaland.

Its headline reads: “Supreme Court PEPT Panel in Turmoil: Sensational Crisis Erupts as Three Justices Abruptly Recuse Themselves”

According to the viral post, the three justices who have purportedly recused themselves are Musa Dattijo Muhammad, I.N. Saulawa, and Helen M. Ogunwumiju.

Part of the report reads: “Originally comprising seven members tasked with deciding the fate of the presidential hopes of Alhaji Atiku Abubakar and Mr. Peter Gregory Obi of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and Labour Party (LP) respectively, this prestigious panel has been rattled by unforeseen exits. Justice Dattijo cited his impending retirement, a shocking pretext that sent shockwaves throughout the legal community. Following suit, Justice Saulawa and Justice Ogunwunmiju also stepped down, citing mysterious reasons, leaving a void in the crucial proceedings.

“This startling turn of events has now led to a staggering revelation: five out of the eleven esteemed Justices of Nigeria’s Supreme Court have either withdrawn or recused themselves from this pivotal case. This unprecedented crisis threatens the very heart of justice in our nation.”

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Indeed, three parties challenging the election of President Bola Tinubu filed appeals at the Supreme Court after their petitions were dismissed at the Presidential Election Petitions at the Court of Appeal. The parties are the PDP, LP, and the Allied People’s Movement (APM).

The Supreme Court’s seven-man panel began hearing the appeals on Monday, October 23.

Also, a Justice of the Supreme Court, Musa Dattijo is expected to officially retire from the apex court on Friday, October 27, 2023. This was disclosed by the Supreme Court Spokesperson, Festus Akande, who also noted that a valedictory service would be held for Justice Dattijo on Friday.

Ripples Nigeria found that contrary to the viral claim, Justice Dattijo is not on the seven-man panel that has begun hearing appeals filed by the election petitioners. Regardless, his retirement has nothing to the with the election petitioners’ appeals, instead, he has reached the mandatory age of retirement age of 70 years.

Ripples Nigeria also confirms that of the other two justices mentioned in the claim being checked – Ibrahim Saulawa, and Helen Ogunwumiju, only Justice Saulawa is on the panel; Justice Ogunwumiju is not, and neither of them has resigned or retired from the Supreme Court. Justices Saulawa and Ogunwumiju are due for retirement in 2026 and 2027 respectively.


The claim that three Justices of the Supreme Court have recused themselves from hearing appeals of election petitioners is false. Of the three Justices listed, only one is on the panel and he has not recused himself; the one whose retirement has been announced was never on the panel.

By: Oluwatobi Odeyinka.

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