It is no longer news that the Presidential Election Petition Tribunal has validated the victory of President Mohanmadu Buhari in the February 23, 2019 Nigerian presidential election.
A five member panel of distinguished Court of Appeal Justices viz; Justice Mohammed Garba of the Lagos Division of the Court of Appeal, eho was the lead and presiding Justice of the five man panel; Justice Abdul Aboki of the Abuja Division of the Court of Appeal; Justice Joseph Ikyegh of the Benin Division of the Court of Appeal; Justice Samuel Oseji of the Lagos Division of the Court of Appeal; and Justice Peter Ige of the Abuja Division of the Court of Appeal, had in a unanimous ruling, dismissed all the prayers contained in the petion of Alhaji Atiku Abubakar and the Peoples Democratic Party. PDP, challenging President Buhari’s election victory.
The substantive grounds had included; Who, among the two scored Majority of lawful votes, as Atiku and PDP had alleged that Buhari and APC suppressed, deflated votes while INEC made wrong entries in result sheets in their strong states (which they named in the course of the tribunal hearing) to deny them victory; That the election was marred by malpractices and corruption in glaring contravention of the Electoral Act, 2010 (as amended) by the Nigerian Police, Army etc. Atiku and PDP also alleged that the Tradermoni initiative by the Vice President, Yemi Osinbajo, amounted to vote buying.
Other prayers were; That Electronic transmission and server results differed with announced result, as Atiku and PDP claimed that they scored higher votes above that of Buhari and APC, through results transmitted on INEC server and made available by adhoc officials on the field; Qualification to contest election, as Atiku and PDP wanted the tribunal to decide whether Buhari and APC satisfied the provision of Section 131 of the Nigerian Constitution for school certificate as one of the qualifications for the office of the President and; Citizenship, as Buhari and APC had claimed that Atiku did not qualify to contest the election having been born in Jada, Adamawa State in 1946 at a time the state was part of Northern Cameroon and therefore, not a citizen of Nigeria as required by the Constitution.
There was also the matter of whether Atiku’s Lawyer, Livi Uzoukwu, SAN, was legitimately enrolled and qualified to practice Law in Nigeria let alone appear before the Tribunal in his capacity as lead counsel to Atiku Abubakar.
Although the Tribunal dismissed INEC and APC’s petition and confirmed Atiku’s citizenship and Livi Uzoukwu, SAN, legitimacy as a distinguished member of the Nigerian Bar, this however turned out to be pyrrhic victory, as the 5 man panel dismissed all the substantive prayers of PDP and Atiku Abubakar in their petition and in so doing, affirmed President Buhari as the winner of the February 23 presidential election in Nigeria.
Reacting to the Tribunal judgement, President Muhammadu Buhari, in a statement titled : TRIBUNAL JUDGMENT IS VICTORY FOR NIGERIANS, said the ruling of the Presidential Election Petition Tribunal on the February 23, 2019 poll, is victory for Nigerians who trooped out to overwhelmingly elect him for a second term in office.
The statement reads thus: “Good conscience fears no evil report. I was unperturbed all along, because I knew Nigerians freely gave us the mandate. We are now vindicated,” the President declares.
He dedicated the victory to God, and to Nigerians, while also commending the judiciary for “dispensing justice without fear or favour.”
President Buhari also extended a hand of fellowship to those who had felt aggrieved at the outcome of the election, and went to court, noting that it was within their democratic rights.
He noted, however, that with the pronouncement of the judiciary, “it is time for the country to move forward as one cohesive body, putting behind us all bickering and potential distractions over an election in which Nigerians spoke clearly and resoundingly.”
However, in a swift reaction to the Tribunal judgement, which had already been foretold by Chief Mike Ozekhome, one of the senior lead counsels to Alhaji Atiku Abubakar, who had stated unequivocally just after proceedings had ended, that an Appeal of the judgement was “as sure as death”, the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, released an official statement confirming that the party was heading to the Supreme Court to contest the Tribunal judgement.
The PDP Press Statement, titled: VERDICT, A SUBVERSION OF JUSTICE, SAYS PDP…HEADS TO SUPREME COURT, reads thus:
“The Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) completely rejects the judgment of the Presidential Election Petition Tribunal describing it as provocative, barefaced subversion of justice and direct assault on the integrity of our nation’s justice system.
The party is particularly shocked that the tribunal failed to point to 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.
Nigerians and the international community watched in utter disbelief when the tribunal ruled that one need 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 notes as strange that the court even went ahead to provide rationalizations in favour 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.
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 our lawyers are upbeat in obtaining justice at the Supreme Court.
This is more so as the tribunal itself admitted that there are several errors in the judgment”
National Publicity Secretary