Tinubu to Atiku, Obi, others: With Supreme Court victory, let’s build our country together

After a prolonged legal tussle that trailed the February 25 presidential election, the Supreme Court Thursday affirmed the validity of the election of Bola Ahmed Tinubu as Nigeria’s president.

The legal battle occasioned by the declaration of Tinubu as winner of the  presidential election, led to war of words and mud fights, particularly  between spokesmen and aides of both the Labour Party (LP) and People’s Democratic Party (PDP)’s  presidential candidates and those of the  ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) while the legal battle lasted.

Former Vice President Atiku Abubakar contested on the PDP platform while the LP featured Mr Peter Obi as its candidate.  

At the end of the election, INEC Chairman and Returning Officer for the presidential election, Professor Mahmood Yakubu, declared Tinubu, the APC candidate, winner of the elections, having polled the majority votes of 8,794,726.

While PDP’s Atiku Abubakar polled 6,984,520, Obi came third with 6,101,533 votes in an election contested by 18 candidates,

But in a unanimous verdict. Thursday, the apex court affirmed the validity of Tinubu’s election and the decision of the tribunal on both Atiku and Obi’s appeals.

The court further said the issues raised by Obi had been dealt with in Atiku’s appeal.

The court also said the issue of double nomination ought not to have been brought before the court.

The seven-man panel headed by Justice Inyang Okoro also dismissed the issue of the 25% requirement for Abuja, as a non-issue.

Other members of the panel are Justices Uwani Abba Aji, Mohammed Garba, Ibrahim Saulawa, Adamu Jauro, Abubakar Tijjani, and Emmanuel Agim.

The lead Judge stated: “Having resolved all the issues against the appellants (Atiku and Obi), this court affirmed the election of a second respondent (Tinubu) as the lawfully elected President.”

Delivering the judgement, Justice Okoro affirmed the judgment of the presidential election tribunal, which, September 6, upheld Tinubu’s election as president.

He said: “On the whole, there is no merit in this appeal, and it is hereby dismissed. The judgment of the court below is hereby affirmed,” Okoro held further.

The apex court had earlier declined to accept fresh evidence from Atiku to prove that Tinubu forged the certificate it submitted to INEC to aid his qualification for the 2023 presidential poll.

On the non-transmission of results electronically, the panel ruled that failure to transmit election results electronically did not in any way affect the outcome of the election and could not warrant the nullification of the exercise.  

 It also noted that Atiku did not produce alternative results of the presidential election that showed he won the majority number of votes cast to render that declared by INEC a nullity.

On the motion by Atiku for fresh evidence on certificates from Chicago State University (CSU), Justice Okoro held that from a clinical look at the issues formulated by all the parties, it is clear that the argument is whether this court as presently constituted has the power to grant the motion. 

The lead judge then ruled that none out of the 7 issues put forward  by Atiku for determination, was related to or covered forgery which the appellant sought  to bring in.

He said the Constitution does not permit that, and that the apex court lacked jurisdiction to grant the filing of fresh evidence that was not pleaded at the PEPT. 

“Atiku did not even deem it fit to file for an amendment of his pleadings and for extension of time, since the 180 days allowed by the Constitution had elapsed since September 17, 2023.

“The Supreme Court has held that the failure by the Independent National Electoral Commission to transmit election results electronically did not affect the outcome of the election and could not warrant the nullification of the result of the presidential election,” the court further ruled.

 …Justices okay lead judgement

The other justices queued behind Okoro and dismissed Atiku’s appeal challenging the judgment of the presidential petition tribunal.

Similarly, they agreed with Okoro to reject the application of Atiku asking the apex court to allow him present Tinubu’s credentials obtained from the CSU.

And consequent upon this, the apex court resolved all the 7 issues raised for determination in favour of Tinubu, declaring that the appeal lacked merit.

“The application by Atiku is frivolous and vexatious and deserves to be dismissed. I find no merit in the appeal and dismiss, and I affirm the decision of the lower court,” Justice Saulawa said.

 “I agree with the reasoning that the decision of the fresh evidence is not authenticated by the authority before it was presented. It was not sealed or had the signature. It cannot be used in Nigeria without authentication.

“I agree with why. It was obvious to all including those that brought it. The FCT violates the fundamental principle of the interpretation of the Constitution and it must be interpreted in a way that provides equality. The parties should bear their cost,” Justice Agim said.

The appellants’ prayers

In separate applications, the duo of Atiku and Obi had sought the nullification of the presidential poll.

Atiku had urged the apex court to dismiss and set aside the judgement of the PEPT which upheld Tinubu’s victory during the election.  

PEPT’s decision

The verdict came eight months after the February 25 poll and about two months after the Justice Haruna Tsammani –led Presidential Election Petition Tribunal (PEPT) in Abuja affirmed the return of Tinubu as being duly elected as president.

The Tsammani-led five-man panel had declared: “This petition accordingly lacks merit. I affirm the return of Bola Ahmed Tinubu as the duly elected President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria. The parties are to bear their cost.”

Similarly, the PEPT expunged 37 exhibits tendered by the witnesses from the court’s records, and also ruled that the issue of dumping of documents on the court would only be determined by the weight to be attached to such evidence.

In celebration of the decision, hundreds of APC supporters and party loyalists were seen at the court environment displaying the party logo, dancing and jubilating, a development that caused some gridlock at the popular Eagle Square and adjoining roads leading to the federal secretariat.

…Tinubu’s reaction

Speaking on the verdict, Thursday, President  Tinubu sought the buy-in of Nigerians, promising to exceed expectations in terms of service delivery in the remaining years of his administration.

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. There is no doubt, with the profound judgment of today, 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 defense 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.”


Also, former President Muhammadu Buhari has described the court’s decision as a welcome relief to him and majority of the citizens.

He said the verdict is “a reaffirmation of the will of the majority of the people against the determined will of a hard-fighting minority. Now that we have arrived at the last bus stop, after a tortuous 8-month 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.”

 …Judgement disappointing, sad day for democracy – PDP, LP

But in its reaction, the PDP expressed disgust at the verdict, describing it as uninspiring.

The party, in a statement by its National Publicity Secretary, Hon. Debo Ologunagba, said: “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 the 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% 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.   

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

 “This judgment by the Supreme Court has evidently shaken the confidence of Nigerians in the judiciary, especially the Supreme Court as the last hope of the common man.” 

…It’s sad day for democracy – LP

In a similar reaction like the PDP, the LP expressed shock that even the apex court in the land toed the line of an earlier judgement in spite of all the many flaws associated with the verdict.  

In a statement Thursday by the National Chairman, Julius Abure, the party said it was a sad day for democracy.

He said: “The planned persecution, intimidation, suppression and harassment of LP leaders using security agencies and all other government institutions will be definitely defended.” 

The statement said: “The leadership of Labour Party watched  as the sacred fabric of justice and good conscience was shredded today at the Supreme Court as it delivered its verdict in the case between our party’s presidential candidate and the APC  presidential candidate. 

“We are indeed very shocked and surprised that even the apex Court will toe the line of an earlier judgement in spite of all the flaws associated with the judgement 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 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.”

About Kehinde Osasona, Abdullahi M. Gulloma and Emeka Nze Abuja

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