Supreme Court affirms Tinubu’s election, dismisses Atiku, Obi’s appeals

Finally, the eight months legal battle for the presidency of Nigeria has come to an end, with President Bola Tinubu of the ruling All Progressives Congress, APC, emerging victorious.

The Supreme Court, yesterday, agreed with the September 6 verdict of the Presidential Election Petition Court, PEPC, on all counts. The seven-man panel of the apex court led by Justice Inyang Okoro, in unanimous judgment, resolved the seven issues for determination in the appeals filed by the Presidential Candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, Alhaji Atiku Abubakar; and his Labour Party, LP, counterpart, Mr. Peter Obi, in favour of Tinubu .

The legal tango started in March when Atiku, Obi, the Allied Peoples Movement, APM, and two others approached the PEPC to challenge the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC’s declaration of Tinubu as the winner of the February 25 presidential poll.

The INEC had on March 1 announced that Tinubu of the APC won the presidential contest ahead of 17 other candidates. It declared that Tinubu scored 8,794,726 votes to defeat Atiku Abubakar, who got 6,984,520 votes, and Mr. Peter Obi, who came third with 6,101,533 votes.
An elated President Tinubu hailed the apex court’s verdict, saying the court has done justice to all issues put up for consideration and urged all Nigerians to join hands with him to build the country.

However, the PDP and LP criticised the ruling. While the PDP said the apex court has disappointed Nigerians, the LP said that Nigeria’s Legislature and Judiciary have been hijacked by the Executive, warning that democracy is under threat and dictatorship looms.

National Chairman of the APC, Dr Abdullahi Ganduje, applauded the Supreme Court decision and urged Atiku and Obi to bury their hatchets and join hands with President Tinubu to move the nation forward.

The judgment also elicited comments from former President Muhammadu Buhari, Governors Hope Uzodimma (Imo), Dapo Abiodun (Ogun) and Biodun Oyebanji (Ekiti), Deputy Senate President Barau Jibrin, House of Representatives Speaker Tajudeen Abbas, FCT Minister, Nyesom Wike, and Aviation Minister, Festus Keyamo among others.

S-Court upholds Tinubu’s victory

The apex court, in its lead judgment, prepared and read by Justice Inyang Okoro, held that there was no merit in Atiku/PDP and Obi/LP’s petitions to nullify the outcome of the election.

The court refused to admit Atiku’s fresh evidence from the Chicago State University, CSU, which claimed that Tinubu submitted a forged certificate to the INEC.

Seven issues

The seven issues the court resolved in favour of Tinubu include: INEC substantially complied with the Electoral Act 2022 and the constitution in the conduct of the poll; election cannot be nullified due to unavailability of results on INEC’s IReV portal; failure to secure 25 per cent of votes in the Federal Capital Territory, FCT, Abuja cannot invalidate a winner’s election; petitioners did not prove allegations of rigging; the issue of APC’s double nomination of Vice President Kashim Shettima had earlier been decided by the court on May 26, 2023; and Tinubu’s forfeiture of $460, 000 drug money was raised when the Respondents had already filed their process.

Dismissal of Atiku’s appeal

The court held that Atiku did not prove that the INEC did not substantially comply with provisions of the Electoral Act 2022 in the conduct of the election.

It held that Section 185(1) of the Evidence Act provided that an election should not be liable to be invalidated, when alleged non-compliance did not substantially affect the outcome of an election.

It held that evidence contained in the record of the appeal showed that the Appellants abandoned the duty imposed on them by the law to not only prove the alleged non-compliance, but also to establish that failure of INEC to transmit results of the election through its IReV portal, influenced the outcome of the presidential poll.

The Supreme Court said it had in past judgments, made it clear that there was a difference between election result collation system and the IReV portal.

“Where the IReV portal fails, it does not stop the collation, which up till the last election was manually done,” the court held.

INEC’s failure on e-transmission may reduce voters’ confidence

Nevertheless, it stressed that INEC’s failure to electronically transmit results of the election, denied the electorates the opportunity to follow and cross-check results that were eventually uploaded.

“Truth must be told, the non-transmission of results to the IReV portal may also reduce the confidence of the voting population in the electoral process,” the Supreme Court warned.
It held that the unavailability of results on INEC’s IReV portal “for whatever reason, could not be the reason for an election to be nullified.

It said that Atiku and PDP did not prove that they suffered any miscarriage of justice as a result of the dismissal of their petition by the PEPC.

25% in Abuja, FCT

It described as misconceived and misplaced, Atiku’s contention that Tinubu ought not have been declared winner of the presidential election, having failed to secure 25 per cent of votes in the Federal Capital Territory, FCT, Abuja.

The apex court affirmed the position of the PEPC that the FCT does not have a status that is more special than that of the 36 states of the federation.

It further upheld the striking out of the evidence of some of the witnesses that testified for Atiku at the PEPC hearing, adding that most of the witnesses gave “inadmissible hearsay” evidence.

“The Appellants did not present any evidence to warrant the interference of the findings of the lower court,” head of the apex court panel, Justice Okoro, added.

Forfeiture of $460, 000 drug money

On the issue that President Tinubu was involved in a drug-related case in the USA that led to the forfeiture of $460, 000, the Supreme Court held that appellants raised the issue when the Respondents had already filed their process, adding that the action denied the Respondents the right to fair hearing.

Petitioners didn’t provide alternative result

The court held that whereas Atiku alleged that the result that was declared by INEC was not accurate, he, however, failed to put forward his perceived rightful result, ruling that the result announced by INEC was presumed as correct in the absence of “any rival or alternative result.”

“The figure before us shows that the 2nd Respondent (Tinubu) won the highest number of votes and was duly declared winner.”

Consequently, the court resolved all the issues that Atiku raised in his petition, in favour of Tinubu.

“On the whole, having resolved all the issues against the Appellants, it is my view that there is no merit in this appeal and it is hereby dismissed.

“Judgment of the lower court delivered on September 6 is hereby affirmed. I shall make no order as to cost,” the Supreme Court held.

Court rejects Atiku’s CSU evidence over late tendering

Rejecting Atiku’s application to be allowed to tender a copy of President Tinubu’s certificate, which he obtained from the CSU, the court held that the constitutionally allowed period for such evidence to be admitted had elapsed.

It stressed that Section 285(5) of the 1999 Constitution, as amended, expressly gave the PEPC a 180 days lifespan to hear and determine in writing, all petitions arising from the presidential election.

According to the apex court, considering that the PEPC, which sat as the court of first instance in the presidential dispute, had since delivered its verdict, no provision of the law would allow the admittance of any other evidence at the appeal stage.

It noted that the 180 days donated to the tribunal by the Constitution expired on September 17, adding that the Supreme Court no longer has the requisite jurisdiction to admit the document.

“This court cannot do what the trial court is no longer constitutionally permitted to do,” Justice Okoro held, adding that Atiku and the PDP could no longer invoke the provision of Section 22 of the Supreme Court Act.

More so, the apex court noted that the issue of forgery which Atiku sought to establish through the proposed fresh evidence, was not pleaded in any paragraph of his appeal.

It held that the Appellants no longer have the time to amend their case since the 21 days allowed for those that were aggrieved with the outcome of the election to file a petition, had also elapsed.

“It is crystal clear that the additional evidence did not fit into issues for determination in this appeal. Therefore, this application is refused and accordingly dismissed,” the Supreme Court held.

S-Court dismisses Obi’s appeal

Also, the Supreme Court dismissed as lacking in merit, Obi’s appeal to nullify Tinubu’s election.

In the lead judgment by Justice Inyang Okoro, the court held that issues Obi raised in his case were already decided in a separate appeal that was filed by Atiku.

Justice Okoro noted that the only distinct issue that Obi raised in his appeal, was the issue that the Vice President, Kashim Shettima, had double nominations from the APC.
The court held that it had earlier decided the issue on May 26, in an appeal marked: SC/CV/501/2023.

“This court cannot allow the matter to be re-litigated in this court. There must be an end to litigation. This matter ought not have come here.

“The appeal lacks merit and it is accordingly dismissed,” the apex court held.
The other six justices on the panel agreed with Justice Okoro and unanimously dismissed the appellants’ case and affirmed President Tinubu as duly elected.

Court has done justice to all issues —Tinubu

Basking in the euphoria of the Supreme Court judgment, President Tinubu said the court has done justice to all issues put up for consideration in the petitions on the merits of the law without fear or favour.

In a statement titled: “It is time for us to build our great nation together,” he said: “I welcome the verdict of the Justice John I. Okoro-led Panel of the Supreme Court on the Presidential Election petitions filed by the candidates of the Peoples Democratic Party and the Labour Party, challenging the ruling of the Presidential Election Petition Tribunal.
“The court has done justice to all issues put up for consideration in the petitions on the merits of the law, without fear or favour.

Our democracy has been consolidated

“There is no doubt, with the profound judgment of today (yesterday), that our electoral jurisprudence and constitutional democracy are further consolidated and embedded more indelibly in our national identity because of the diligence and undaunted professionalism of the Honourable Justices who presided over the matter.

“While the verdict of today has laid to rest the agitating discourse over who truly won the 2023 Presidential election and met the constitutional requirements as laid out by law, I want to reiterate that my faith in our nation’s judiciary has never been shaken, not even for a moment, because I know that our hallowed courts of law will not fail to administer justice to all Nigerians in all matters and at all times.

“Despite the fusillade of pressure and attempts at intimidation by some political actors, the judiciary demonstrated its unequivocal commitment to upholding the rule of law for the upliftment and defence of humanity.

“It was affirmed once more today, that my party, the governing All Progressives’ Congress, had freely and fairly won the popular mandate of Nigerians, which has since given rise to my leadership of this great nation at a tumultuous period of unprecedented reforms in our history as a nation.

“With deep gratitude to God Almighty, I solemnly and humbly accept today’s judicial victory with an intense sense of responsibility and a burning desire to meet the great challenges confronting our people.”

Victory has further energised me

Continuing, he said: “The victory of today has further energised and strengthened my commitment to continue to serve all Nigerians of all political persuasions, tribes, and faiths, with honour and total respect for the diverse opinions and uniting values of our citizens.

Let’s work together

“We are all members of one household, and this moment demands that we continue to work and build our country together. The strength of our diversity and the great citizenship that binds us must now compel us forward in directing the energy of our people towards building a virile, stronger, united, and more prosperous country.

“In the days and months ahead, I trust that the spirit of patriotism will be elevated into supporting our administration to improve the living conditions of Nigerians. I am prepared to welcome the contributions of all Nigerians to foster and strengthen our collective progress.

“I send my immense gratitude to all Nigerians for the mandate to serve our country. I promise again to meet and exceed your expectations in service delivery and good governance, working with my team and trusting in the grace of God.”

S-Court has disappointed, failed Nigerians —PDP

However, the PDP has expressed disappointment, saying it was appalled by the judgment.
National Publicity Secretary of the party, Mr. Debo Ologunagba, in a statement, said: “The PDP and indeed majority of Nigerians are alarmed, disappointed and gravely concerned with the reasoning of the Supreme Court which the PDP believes is against the express provisions of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999 (as amended), the Electoral Act, 2022, the Guideline and Regulation issued by INEC under which the election was conducted.

“The PDP asserts that it is indeed a sad commentary for our democracy that the Supreme Court failed to uphold the provisions of the law.

“Instead, it trashed the expectation of majority of Nigerians, who looked up to it as a Temple of Impartiality to deliver substantial justice in the matter having regards to the laws and facts of the case.

“Nigerians earnestly expected the Supreme Court to uphold and defend the clear provisions of the 1999 Constitution in terms of qualification and minimum requirement for a winner to be declared in a Presidential election in Nigeria especially with regards to the required statutory 25 percent of votes in the FCT as well as issues of violation of electoral Rules and Guidelines, brazen manipulations and alterations of election results by the APC.
“Nigerians are still at a loss as to how the Supreme Court condoned the serious issues of forgery, falsehood and perjury on the altar of technicalities.

Grave danger

“The general gloom, melancholy and sense of despondency across the country upon the delivery of the judgment is an ominous sign of eerie situation which portend grave consequences because of the disappointment embedded in the judgment.

LP rejects verdict, says Legislature, Judiciary hijacked

On its part, the LP criticised the verdict, alleging that the judiciary and the legislature have been hijacked by the executive.

National Chairman of the LP, Julius Abure, speaking at a press briefing few hours after the apex court ruling said the LP was disappointed but has decided to move on and remain optimistic about what the future holds for the nation.

Nigeria sliding towards dictatorship

According to Abure, what happened from the day of the 2023 presidential election to now showed that the nation was sliding towards dictatorship.

His words: “We are indeed very shocked and surprised that even the apex court will toe the line of an earlier judgment in spite of all the flaws associated with the judgment delivered by the Presidential Election Appeal Tribunal.

“Having conclusively exercised our fundamental rights as gifted to us by the laws of the land, we have no other choice but to move on. We may be disappointed and dismayed by the outcome of the exercise but we have chosen to trudge on and to remain optimistic of what the future holds for the nation.

We weep for our institutions

“We weep for our institutions that cannot rise to the occasion and courageously defend democracy and the voices of our people.

“However, there are great lessons to be learnt. What transpired in Nigeria since the February 25 presidential election is a clear testament that our institutions are not working and that we may be sliding towards dictatorship. It is very clear that the executive has hijacked both the judiciary and the legislature. This is so unfortunate for our democracy and it is even more for the people of Nigeria.

“All that our fore-bearers taught us has been destroyed within a short space of time because of the unbridled ambition of a few.

Obi, LP leaders marked for vilification

The Labour Party chairman also alleged that some leaders of the party including himself and Obi have been marked by the government for vilification in order to suppress the party and its goal for a new Nigeria.

He called on the European Union and the international community to rise to the occasion to defend democracy in Nigeria.

His words: “Your voices were loud and clear in condemnation of the outcome of the presidential election. As we approach the next stage of our democratic journey, we call on you to stand by the millions of Nigerians, who are already pushed beyond their limits into unnecessary hardship and penury.”

Bury your hatchets, Ganduje, CSOs tell Atiku, Obi

APC National Chairman, Dr Abdullahi Ganduje and civil society groups under the Coalition for Good Governance and Change Initiative applauded the ruling and urged Atiku and Obi to support Tinubu in the quest to develop the country.

In a statement by his Chief Press Secretary, Mr Edwin Olofu, the APC chairman urged Atiku and Obi to bury their hatchets and join hands with he president to move the nation forward. He told them that they could still realise their ambitions in 2031 after Tinubu’s second term.

Ganduje said the judgment has laid to rest all claims by the opposition that the votes at the presidential poll were manipulated in favour of President Tinubu.

Ganduje called on Atiku and Obi to bury their hatchets and join hands with President Tinubu to reposition the country towards sustainable growth and development.

“This is democracy. Tinubu’s victory is another victory for democratic rule in the country. There is still room for both Obi and Atiku to actualise their presidential aspiration after the second term tenure of President Tinubu in 2031,” he noted.

We’ve arrived at last bus stop —Buhari

In his reaction, former President Muhammadu Buhari, described the Supreme Court verdict as a welcome relief to him and to a majority of the citizens.

The former President, in a statement by his media aide, Garba Shehu said: “Now that we have arrived at the last bus stop, after a tortuous eight months of expensive legal journey, the nation deserves a break. The opposition has fought a good fight. Having now exhausted their rights as constitutionally allowed, they should take the hand of fellowship extended by the Tinubu/Shettima APC government. Let them allow the government to run their administration and the people to have the benefit of the promises the All Progressives Congress, APC made.”

Congratulate Tinubu now, Keyamo tells Atiku, Obi

Minister of Aviation and Aerospace Development, Festus Keyamo, SAN, called on Atiku and Obi to congratulate President Tinubu.

Making the call on his X page, Keyamo said it is now time for nation-building.

He wrote: “By the judgment of the Supreme Court today, the laymen prowling all over the social media can now clearly see that there is a wide chasm between emotions and law. These were Election Petitions pursued with unnecessary venom and hatred by most of those involved. Today, they have learnt a bitter lesson that such venom, hatred and sentiment have no place in judicial proceedings and deliberations. Their journey has come to a grinding end.

“What is now left is nation-building. The other Presidential candidates must now call President Tinubu and congratulate him as true patriots. We as patriotic citizens must also now close ranks to help steer our country in the right direction. I wish all of us well.”

Judgment’s triumph of people’s will – Jibrin

Deputy Senate President Jibrin, hailed the decision of the Supreme Court, which he said is victory for democracy, and marks the end of all litigation concerning the presidential poll.

In a statement by his Special Adviser on Media & Publicity, Ismail Mudashir, he urged the appellants to join hands with the President to address the challenges facing the country.
“The legal battle is over with today’s judgment of the Supreme Court…It is now time for all to team up with the president to actualise his lofty programmes and policies for the development of our country as captured in the Renewed Hope Agenda.”

We’ll vote Tinubu again in 2027 – Wike

Minister of the Federal Capital Territory FCT, Nyesom Wike, pledged to mobilise electoral support for President Tinubu in the next election, saying those who scored 2,000 in the 2023 elections would score next to nothing in 2027.

The minister made the declaration in Abuja while playing host to leaders of the APC from Rivers state, led by the National Vice Chairman, South South, Victor Giadom.

Wike also said he had no regrets supporting the president in the last general election because he was out to ensure equity and justice, adding that he owes no one any apology.
Promising to carry the Rivers APC and all Nigerians along, the minister said he would never discriminate against anyone on the basis of religion, ethnicity or political affiliations.

Verdict revalidates Nigerians’ trust in Tinubu– Uzodimma

Also reacting, Governor Hope Uzodimma of Imo State congratulated President Tinubu on his victory at the Supreme Court, saying the ruling is a revalidation of the trust millions of Nigerians reposed in Tinubu when they voted for him on February 25.

In a statement he personally wrote after the Supreme Court verdict, Uzodimma said: “On behalf of the Government and the good people of Imo State, I extend our heartfelt congratulations to President Tinubu on his triumphant victory at the Supreme Court, securing his presidency in the recent general elections.

It’s victory for Nigerians – Speaker Abbas

Speaker of the House of Representatives Hon. Abbas Tajudeen, the Supreme Court victory was not only for President Tinubu and APC but also for all Nigerians.

In a statement by his Special Adviser on Media and publicity, Musa Kirshi, the speaker congratulated the President, and hailed the judiciary for remaining the last hope of the common man, noting that the judgment by the Supreme Court has further strengthened legal jurisprudence in Nigeria.

“It is my sincere hope that the opponents, after exercising their constitutional rights to challenge the electoral victory up to the apex court in the land, will consider working with Mr. President to deliver his ‘Renewed Hope Agenda.’

It’s victory for democracy—Oyebanji

Concurring Governor Biodun Oyebanji of Ekiti State described the verdict as victory for democracy and rule of law.

Governor Oyebanji described the triumph of the President at the apex court as “the ultimate judicial stamp on the landslide victory of the APC flag bearer at the 2023 presidential poll held on February 25, 2023.”

In a statement by his Special Adviser on Media, Yinka Oyebode, Governor Oyebanji said the affirmation of President Tinubu’s victory by both the Presidential Election Petition Court and the Supreme Court has laid to rest all doubts and controversies raised by the opposition about the presidential election.

Judgment, a watershed —Abiodun

Governor Dapo Abiodun of Ogun State described the ruling as a watershed and a moment of joy for all Nigerians.

In a statement, he said the judgment is rooted in law, and praised the judiciary for standing by the truth at all times.

His words: “The victory is for all Nigerians, moreso as it came when President Tinubu’s policies aimed at lifting Nigeria out of her current malaise were beginning to take shape.”

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