•Pledges to exceed people’s expectations in service delivery
•PDP, LP reject tribunal’s ruling
•Buhari, Ganduje, govs, APC, others react to judgment
By our correspondents
President Bola Tinubu, yesterday, responded to the news of his electoral victory affirmed by the Presidential Election Petition Court, from India, where he was participating in the G-20 summit, and saluted the diligence, undaunted thoroughness, and professionalism of the five-member bench, led by Justice Haruna Tsammani in interpreting the law.
He however, urged his co-contestants, Atiku Abubakar of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and Peter Obi of the Labour Party as well as their supporters to give his government the requisite backing in collective interest.
But the leaderships of the PDP and Labour Party have rejected the verdict of the tribunal, saying it was against reason, facts and evidence.
This notwithstanding, President Muhammadu Buhari, who among other notable Nigerians like the APC National Chairman, Abdullahi Ganduje, governors of the ruling party, and others, reacted to the tribunal ruling, said democracy and the people have won by the tribunal pronouncement.
Tinubu said he welcomed the judgment with an intense sense of solemn responsibility and preparedness to serve all Nigerians, irrespective of all diverse political persuasions, faiths, and tribal identities.
The president, in a release issued by his Media Adviser, Chief Ajuri Ngelale, assured Nigerians of his renewed and energised focus on delivering his vision of a unified, peaceful and prosperous nation, following the judgment by the presidential tribunal in Abuja.
He recognised the diligence, undaunted thoroughness, and professionalism of the five-member bench, led by Justice Haruna Tsammani in interpreting the law.
The president stressed that his commitment to the rule of law, and the unhindered discharge of duties by the Tribunal, as witnessed in the panel’s respect for the merits of the petitions brought forward.
He said it further reflected the continuing maturation of Nigeria’s legal system, “and the advancement of Africa’s largest democracy at a time when our democratic system of government is under test in other parts of the continent.”
According to him, the presidential candidates and political parties that have lawfully exercised their rights by participating in the 2023 general election and the judicial process, which followed, had affirmed Nigeria’s democratic credentials.
Tinubu urged his valiant challengers to inspire their supporters in the trust that the spirit of patriotism would now and forever be elevated above partisan considerations, “manifesting into support for our government to improve the livelihood of all Nigerians.”
He thanked Nigerians for the mandate given to him to serve the country while promising to meet and exceed their expectations, by God’s grace, and through diligent hard work with the team that has been put in place for that purpose.
PDP, LP Reject Presidential Court Judgment
The Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and its Candidate, Atiku Abubakar, as well as the Labour Party, have rejected the judgement of the Presidential Election Petition Tribunal, because it was against reason, fact and evidence.
In a statement by the National Publicity Secretary, Debo Ologunagba, the PDP said, “As a party, we have had an initial review of the judgment as delivered by the PEPC and we unequivocally reject the said Judgement in its entirety.
“The judgement is against reason, against the facts and evidence presented in Court; against the relevant electoral laws, guidelines and regulations as well as the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999 (as amended). Indeed, the judgment is generous in technicalities and very short in delivering substantial justice in the matter.
“The PDP, as a law-abiding political party, will with our lawyers, have a comprehensive review of the judgment and decide on the next line of action within the ambit of the law,” he said.
The party called on Nigerians to remain at alert, calm and united as it continues to lead the charge to defend democracy and ensure that the will of the people as expressed in the February 25, 2023 Presidential election was respected and restored.
On its part, the Labour Party said it watched with dismay and trepidation the dismissal of petitions by the five-man panel of the Presidential Election Petition Court led by Justice Haruna Tsammani and therefore rejected it.
In a statement by the National Publicity Secretary, Obiora Ifoh, the party said, “We reject the outcome of the judgment in its entirety, because justice was not served and it did not reflect the law and the desire of the people.
“Nigerians were witnesses to the electoral robbery that took place on February 25, 2023, which was globally condemned but the Tribunal in its wisdom refused to accept the obvious.”
According to the party, “What is at stake is democracy and we will not relent until the people’s will prevails. We salute the doggedness of our team of lawyers who fearlessly exposed the wrath in our system. We can only weep for democracy in Nigeria but we refuse to give up on Nigeria.
“Details of the party’s position will be presented after consultation with our lawyers after the Certified True Copy of the judgment has been obtained. We urge all lovers of democracy to remain focused and hopeful because a new Nigeria is possible.”
Buhari: Democracy, Our People Have Won
Former President Muhammadu Buhari has expressed his happiness with ruling of the Presidential Elections Petition Court confirming the victory of the All Progressives Congress and its candidate, President Bola Ahmed Tinubu and his running mate, Vice President Kashim Shettima in the February 25 election.
The former President, in a statement by his former aide, Garba Shehu, said the PEPC has “written history” by spurning intimidation and all manner of prejudice to deliver justice according law to a majority of citizens, whose wish is that the choices they made were respected.
“If anybody has won today it is the democracy and the people,” adding, “with the verdict of the Supreme Court, the election period is over and it is time to put the heat and dust behind us.
“From here, the new APC administration led by Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu should get the support of everyone in order to deliver the promises it made to the people,” he said.
The former President also voiced his appreciation to all citizens for maintaining peace throughout this period and prayed for continued progress and development under the APC government.
He sent warm congratulations to the President, the Vice President and the All Progressives Congress on the victory in court, expressing his best wishes to them in fulfilling the peoples aspirations.
Accept Tribunal’s Verdict, Ganduje Tells PDP, LP
The National Chairman of the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC), Abdullahi Ganduje, has called on the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and the Labour Party (LP) to accept the verdict of the tribunal.
Ganduje in a statement personally signed commended the tribunal for validating the victory of President Bola Tinubu.
He described the judgment as thorough, having addressed all the issues raised by the petitioners, and therefore urged the PDP and LP to cooperate with the present administration in its effort to address the challenges facing the country.
“I had no doubt whatsoever in my mind that the President would come out victorious, considering the massive support Nigerians gave him and our party the APC before and during the Presidential Election.
“May I also congratulate the Nigerian Judiciary for adjudicating on the issues arising from the presidential election without fear and favour by doing the right thing. With this judgment, a precedent has been set for electoral matters in the country,” he said.
Ganduje also described the verdict as a true reflection of the presidential election, assuring the people that the Tinubu-led administration would live up to its electoral promises to reposition the country, achieve the desired growth and progress.
Barau: Verdict Reaffirms Nigerians’ Choice of Tinubu
The Deputy President of the Senate, Senator Jibrin Barau, has commended the judgment of the Presidential Election Petition Tribunal (PEPT), affirming the victory of President Bola Ahmed Tinubu, saying the the judgment had reaffirmed the choice of Nigerians on Tinubu.
Barau, who gave the commendation in a statement by his Special Adviser on Media and Publicity, Ismail Mudashir, urged all the parties to accept the outcome of the tribunal.
He said Nigerians irrespective of party differences needed to team up with the present administration to address the challenges facing the country.
“The judgment of the Presidential Election Petition Tribunal on the presidential poll, has reaffirmed the choice of the electorate who trooped out on February 25, 2023, to vote for President Bola Ahmed Tinubu as the president of our beloved country.
“Now, it is time for all to team up with the President to turn around the fortunes of the country positively for the benefit of all,” he said.
Abbas: Judgment Further Legitimises Tinubu’s Victory
Speaker of the House of Representatives, Hon. Abbas Tajudeen, has said the dismissal of the petitions against President Bola Tinubu’s victory in the February 25, 2023 presidential election has only added more legitimacy and credibility to his government and administration.
In a statement by Special Adviser on Media and Publicity, Musa Krishi, the speaker congratulated Tinubu on his victory at the Presidential Election Petitions Tribunal.
Abbas said while the petitioners had duly exercised their rights by approaching the tribunal to table their grievances, the court had also duly weighed the arguments and evidence presented before it before arriving at the judgment.
The judiciary, the speaker added, had lived up to its name as the true arbiter in any case, based on the way it adjudicated on the presidential election petitions before it.
Abbas, therefore, hailed the judiciary for its critical role in the sustenance of democracy in Nigeria, noting that the tribunal’s judgment has strengthened democratic processes in the country.
He also said the judgment had vindicated the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), which duly declared Tinubu winner of the presidential poll based on the votes the president received from Nigerians.
Sanwo-Olu: Tinubu Worked Hard for His Victory
Lagos State Governor, Mr. Babajide Sanwo-Olu, has congratulated President Bola Tinubu on his victory at the Presidential Election Petition Court, which delivered its verdict in favour of the All Progressives Congress (APC) and the presiden, saying Tinubu worked hard for the victory.
Sanwo-Olu said the APC members across Nigeria and Tinubu, worked very hard for the victory enjoyed at the February 25th presidential election, noting that the tribunal’s decision, which decided in favour of the president was comforting and also an affirmation of the will of over eight million Nigerians, who filed out to cast their ballots for the APC and Tinubu as their choice.
Sanwo-Olu, in a statement by his Chief Press Secretary, Mr. Gboyega Akosile, said Nigerians had spoken through the ballots and the court has also validated the citizens’ decision by today’s judicial pronouncements, which upheld the victory of Tinubu during the 2023 presidential poll.
The governor said millions of Nigerians were not in doubt as regards the mandate freely given to Tinubu to steer the ship of Nigeria for four years based on his track records and laudable achievements as a two-term governor of Lagos State.
“What we are witnessing today is the beauty of democracy and the rule of law. We had an election in February this year, where over eight million Nigerians voted to elect Asiwaju Bola Tinubu as the President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.
“We ordinarily thought that the losers should have displayed good spirit of sportsmanship by congratulating the winner (President Tinubu) but they chose to contest the election results, which is within their rights. Now that election and the results have been upheld by the Court. I hope they would do the needful.
“I congratulate the President and Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, President Bola Tinubu on his well-deserved victory at the Presidential Election Tribunal Court.
“I also congratulate the leadership and members of our great party, the All Progressives Congress, and all Nigerians at home and in the Diaspora on this very landmark judicial victory,” he said.
He however, enjoined Nigerians across party divide to team up with Tinubu to deliver the real dividends of democracy to Nigerians through the Renewed Hope agenda of the incumbent administration, saying the judicial verdict was victory for democracy and the rule of law.
Abiodun: It Affirms Trust Reposed in Tinubu
Ogun State Governor, Dapo Abiodun, has congratulated President Bola Ahmed Tinubu and Vice President, Kashim Shettima on their victory at the Presidential Election Petition Tribunal.
Abiodun said the tribunal’s verdict was an affirmation of the trust reposed in the president by Nigerians as evidenced in the outcome of the presidential election.
He described the judgment as sound, detailed and comprehensive, noting that the judges displayed unmatched courage in the discharge of their duties.
“It is heartwarming that the tribunal judges did not succumb to intimidation by the opposition, who deployed various antics to sway the judgement in their favour.
“The judgement is a further testament to the fact that the judiciary is the last hope of our people,” the governor said.
Ogun APC: Judgment is Sound, Victory Well-deserved
The All Progressives Congress (APC) in Ogun State, has congratulated President Bola Ahmed Tinubu on his victory at the Presidential Election Petition, describing the victory as “well-deserved” and the judgement “very sound”
In a statement in Abeokuta, the Ogun State capital, signed by the State Publicity Secretary, Tunde Oladunjoye, the APC remarked that, “We had no doubt that Asiwaju won that election massively and decisively. That was well-known to the world. The petitioners were only at the Tribunal to use that as a trick to hold on to the remnants of their followers and to also rabble-rouse.
“The petitions as we have seen, are entirely incompetent and time-wasters. We must also commend the judges for the detailed judgement that lasted several hours. The judgement is not only detailed, but also sound. It is a judgement that will serve as reference point for decades to come for lawyers, politicians, scholars and all other people interested in electoral litigations.
“We must not fail to commend the audacious courage of the judges, who stood their ground and on the side of justice despite harassment, intimidation and blackmail by opposition party supporters and their infantile antics.”
Lawyers Hail Judgement, Ask Atiku, Obi to Test Decision at S’Court if Dissatisfied
Some constitutional lawyers like Dr. Joseph Nwobike, SAN, Professor Konyinsola Ajayi SAN, and Dr. Abiodun Layonu SAN, have hailed the verdict of the Presidential Election Petition Court (PEPC), which upheld the election of President Bola Tinubu.
Speaking on the judgement, Nwobike said the verdict of the PEPC “is in accord with the established principles of law that govern and underpin election litigations in Nigeria.”
He, however, said parties who were dissatisfied were at liberty to proceed to the Supreme Court to test the decisions of the Tribunal.
According to Nwobike, “The learned justices on the Tribunal’s Bench examined and resolved all the issues of law and fact in favour of the Respondents after considering the evidence led and the applicable laws.
“For instance, the Tribunal decided that the 2nd Respondent was qualified to contest the presidential election and that the Order for forfeiture made by the Court in Illinois, United States of America was not a conviction within the contemplation of the provisions of section 137 of the Constitution of Nigeria.
“The tribunal held that the petitioners failed to prove that the president was convicted in the United States of America as alleged in their respective petitions. The tribunal equally decided that INEC has the discretion on how to transmit election results.
“In my view, the judgement accords with the established principles of law that govern and underpin election litigations in Nigeria. I believe that the parties will proceed to the Supreme Court to test the decisions of the Tribunal. I will encourage all the parties and their supporters to abide by the decisions of the courts in this and all regards.”
In his reaction, Professor Ajayi said the judgement was “a thorough examination of issues and a fair assessment of evidence, under rather tight conditions of law and thus a reasonable decision.”
Dr. Layonu, on his part, said: “From the judgment, it was clear that the petitions were bereft of merit, even ab initio. Undoubtedly, any appeal, (which is not advised) would suffer the same fate. In a short expression, I will say that the judgments were sound, fair and jurisprudential.”
However, human rights lawyer, Ebun Adegboruwa, SAN, in his view said the verdict of the PEPC was not totally unexpected, given the stark realities facing us as a nation and the state of the law.
Adegboruwa, in a statement titled: PEPC verdict on 2023 presidential election: Time for Sober Reflection, said the principles of presumption of regularity of elections and that of substantial conformity made it extremely difficult to prosecute elections successfully.
“In this particular case, the burden placed upon the petitioners in order to upturn the election was practically insurmountable. To make matters worse, INEC practically fought the petitioners to a standstill, as if it was an interested party in the whole process.
“I honestly don’t think anyone expected a different verdict from what was delivered in Abuja yesterday, particularly the lawyers. The tension was completely unnecessary.
“This is why we emphasise always that the focus of anyone hoping to birth a true change in our electoral history should be on the electoral umpire. Without first unbundling INEC to make it more independent, non-partisan and effective, anyone declared “winner” will most often coast to victory in the election tribunal.
“The verdict should be a reason for sober reflection by all, especially for the parties in court, their lawyers and all lovers of democracy. The petitions could have been decided purely on points of law and within few days of the election.”
Join Tinubu’s Devt Agenda, Group Tells Atiku, Obi
Following the judgment of the Presidential Election Petition Tribunal decided in favour of President Bola Tinubu, a group, Coalition of Good Governance and Change Initiative (CGGCI), has called on the Presidential candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Atiku Abubakar and his Labour Party (LP) counterpart, Peter Obi, to support the president’s ongoing development agenda.
National Coordinator of the group, Okpokwu Ogenyi, while addressing journalists yesterday in Abuja during a solidarity work in support of President Tinubu, said both Atiku and Obi should accept the outcome of the tribunal judgment.
The group also commended the Justices of the tribunal for delivering a sound judgment, noting that they embarked on the solidarity walk to celebrate the mandate the people willingly gave to President Tinubu, which has also being affirmed by the court
Asked for his message for both Atiku and Obi, he added, “They are Nigerians. But we, Nigerians, rejected them with the mandate to lead us through the ballot. They should accept the verdict of the court and move on with the President.
“We are saying that Atiku, Peter Obi and Kwankwaso are all welcome to be part of the administration. All we want is to ensure the success and progress of the Nigerian system, which we believe is going to be obtainable under the President Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu administration.
“It is a great indication that the world has agreed with the mandate of the Nigerian people that Asiwaju still remains the choice of the people. It is not a mistake that we are Nigerians by providence. And God Almighty has brought President Asiwaju to liberate the sufferings of the Nigerian people. Asiwaju has come with so many promises and he is fulfilling them.
“Within 100 days in office, he was able to sign the student loans Act into law. Within 100 days in office, he has initiated measures to cushion the effects of the subsidy removal that was done by the previous administration. Within 100 days in office, he was able to diversify the Nigerian economy recreating ministries and assigning them appropriately.
“Within 100 days in office, Asiwaju has continued to take giants strides. The world has come to reckon with Nigeria,” he said.