Atiku, CUPP head to Supreme Court as election tribunal upholds Buhari’s victory

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The Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and its candidate in the 2019 presidential election, Atiku Abubakar are heading to the Supreme Court to challenge the decision of the presidential election tribunal; which on Wednesday, upheld the victory of President Muhammadu Buhari in the Feb. 23 poll. The PDP said it “completely” rejected the judgment, describing it as “provocative, barefaced subversion of justice and direct assault on the integrity of our nation’s justice system.” Likewise, the Coalition of United Political Parties (CUPP) rejected the tribunal’s verdict, saying the judgement is an insult to Nigerians.

PDP national publicity secretary, Kola Ologbondiyan, in a statement immediately after the judgement, said the party was particularly shocked that the tribunal failed to deliver justice despite the flawless evidence laid before it, showing that President Buhari was not only unqualified to contest the election but also did not score the majority of valid votes at the polls.
 
“The PDP finds as bewildering that a court of law could validate a clear case of perjury and declaration of false information in a sworn affidavit, as firmly established against President Muhammadu Buhari, even in the face of incontrovertible evidence. The party is also rudely shocked that the court took over the roles of the respondents’ lawyers who clearly abandoned their pleadings by refusing to call evidence in defense of the petition. The court raked up all manner of excuses to make up for the yawning gaps occasioned by the total absence of any evidence from the Respondents”, the statement added.

PDP said Nigerians and the international community watched in utter disbelief when the tribunal ruled that one needs not provide a copy or certified true copy of educational certificate such individual claimed to possess, contrary to established proof of claims of certification. The party noted as strange that the court even went ahead to provide rationalizations in favor of President Buhari, even when all hard facts before it shows that he did not possess the claimed educational certificate and that the army was not in possession of his WAEC certificate as claimed in the affidavit he deposed to in his presidential nomination form.

The PDP also described as shocking that the court approved the flawed declaration of President Buhari as the winner of the election despite evidence to show the perpetration of illegalities, manipulations, alterations and subtraction of valid votes freely given to Atiku Abubakar by Nigerians. According to PDP, “Indeed, the pervading melancholic atmosphere across our nation since the verdict is a direct indication that the judgment has not fulfilled the desires and expectations of Nigerians.”

The PDP however encouraged Nigerians to remain calm and not to lose hope or surrender to despondency or self-help, as its lawyers are upbeat in obtaining justice at the Supreme Court, saying this is more so as the tribunal itself admitted that there are several errors in the judgment.

CUPP in a statement by its spokesman, Ikenga Ugochinyere, lamented that the tribunal lost the rare opportunity presented to it by the petition of the consensus opposition candidate Atiku Abubakar to put an end to electoral fraud, leadership incompetence and the imposition of an unfit leader on the people.
 
According to Ugochinyere, “By their judgment today, majority of Nigerians who had believed, though erroneously, that the judiciary was indeed independent have been brazenly awakened to the fact and correct belief that the presidency had successfully hijacked the judiciary and Nigerians can only expect judgments and not justice.

Meanwhile, President Buhari said the ruling was a victory for Nigerians that elected him for a second term in office. “Good conscience fears no evil report,” Buhari said in a statement by presidential spokesman Femi Adesina. Buhari said he was not disturbed during the entire tribunal proceedings because he knew Nigerians voted him in freely. “We are now vindicated,” Buhari said, praising the judiciary for “dispensing justice without fear or favor.”

The ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) hailed the judgement, describing it as a victory for rule of law and decency. APC National Publicity Secretary, Lanre Issa-Onilu, in a statement commended the judiciary for refusing to succumb to the PDP’s subterfuge. “The PDP and Atiku’s petition was largely hinged on the educational qualification of President Muhammadu Buhari and tales of an Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) server and allegations of electronic transmission of election results. This was rightly dismissed by the Tribunal for lacking in merit.”

The tribunal dismissed the petition of the PDP and its candidate Atiku challenging Buhari’s victory at the 2019 presidential election. The tribunal chairman Mohammed Garba said the petitioners failed to prove their petition beyond reasonable doubt and the petition “is hereby dismissed in its entirety.”

Atiku and the PDP were challenging the election result which the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) declared Buhari winner. INEC chairman Mahmood Yakubu said Buhari polled 15,191,847 votes to defeat Atiku, who polled 11,262,978 votes. However, Atiku and the PDP said the election was ‘massively’ rigged.

But the petitioners claimed that the election results data obtained from INEC’s server showed that they polled a total of 18,356,732 votes to defeat Buhari whom they said scored 16,741,430 votes. INEC, however, said that it had no server where the election results were transmitted during the February 23 presidential election.

Atiku and the PDP also claimed that Buhari was not academically qualified to contest a presidential election in Nigeria. The opposition party and its candidate also petitioned the tribunal to nullify Buhari’s election on grounds of alleged over-voting and voter intimidation by security agents during the polls. But the petition was dismissed by the tribunal.

PDP also petitioned the tribunal on the ground that Vice President Yemi Osinbajo was not joined as an interested party in the petition. The court held that the vice president is not a necessary party in an election petition, noting that he is attached to the candidate, so he and the president win or lose together. “It is the conclusion in the judgment that running mates to an election are not a necessary party,” the chairman of the tribunal Garba Mohammed said. PDP also accused Osinbajo of criminal activities by allegedly using government funds to induce citizens during the election. The tribunal also struck out the petition.