In a long-awaited conclusion to the eight-month legal battle for the Nigerian presidency, President Bola Tinubu of the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) has emerged victorious, as confirmed by the Supreme Court’s recent ruling. The court, led by Justice Inyang Okoro, unanimously upheld the verdict of the Presidential Election Petition Court (PEPC) from September 6, settling all issues in favor of President Tinubu.
This legal saga began in March when Alhaji Atiku Abubakar, the Presidential Candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), along with his counterpart Mr. Peter Obi of the Labour Party (LP), as well as the Allied Peoples Movement (APM) and others, approached the PEPC to challenge the Independent National Electoral Commission’s (INEC) declaration of Tinubu as the winner of the presidential election held on February 25.
INEC had announced on March 1 that President Tinubu of the APC had won the presidential contest with 8,794,726 votes, surpassing 17 other candidates, including Atiku Abubakar and Peter Obi, who received 6,984,520 and 6,101,533 votes, respectively.
President Tinubu expressed his elation at the Supreme Court’s verdict, asserting that the court had addressed all the issues raised during the legal battle and called on all Nigerians to unite in the effort to build the nation.
However, the PDP and LP expressed their disappointment with the ruling. The PDP claimed that the Supreme Court had let down Nigerians, while the LP raised concerns about the encroachment of the Executive on the Legislature and Judiciary, warning of a looming threat to democracy.
Dr. Abdullahi Ganduje, the National Chairman of the APC, commended the Supreme Court’s decision and urged Atiku and Obi to put their differences aside and work together with President Tinubu for the betterment of the nation.
Former President Muhammadu Buhari, as well as Governors Hope Uzodimma, Dapo Abiodun, and Biodun Oyebanji, Deputy Senate President Barau Jibrin, House of Representatives Speaker Tajudeen Abbas, FCT Minister Nyesom Wike, and Aviation Minister Festus Keyamo, among others, also shared their thoughts on the judgment.
The Supreme Court, in its leading judgment delivered by Justice Inyang Okoro, emphasized that there was no merit in the petitions brought forth by Atiku/PDP and Obi/LP to challenge the election’s outcome. Among the key issues resolved in favor of President Tinubu were INEC’s compliance with the Electoral Act and the constitution, the unavailability of election results on INEC’s IReV portal not being sufficient to nullify the election, and the petitioners’ inability to substantiate allegations of rigging.
Furthermore, the Supreme Court held that the issue of APC’s double nomination of Vice President Kashim Shettima had already been addressed by the court earlier in May 2023, and the matter of Tinubu’s alleged forfeiture of $460,000 in drug money was raised after the Respondents had already submitted their process.
The court also dismissed Atiku’s appeal, stating that he had failed to prove substantial non-compliance with the Electoral Act in the conduct of the election. It underscored that election results collation and the IReV portal were distinct processes, and the failure of the IReV portal did not impede the manual collation, which was in place until the last election.