PRESIDENT Bola Tinubu has praised the Supreme Court verdict that affirmed his election victory at the February 25, 2023 presidential poll, as he declared that judgment is a moment that demands continued collaboration “to work and build our country together.”
The Supreme Court, in its ruling on Thursday, dismissed the appeals by the presidential candidates of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and the Labour Party, Alhaji Atiku Abubakar and Peter Obi respectively.
In a unanimous judgment today, Thursday, October 26, 2023, a panel of seven justices of the Supreme Court led by Justice John I. Okoro, ruled that the appeals lack merit.
In his reaction in a statement he personally signed, 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.
The full statement reads:
“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.
“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. Our Renewed Hope agenda for a greater and prosperous Nigeria has further gained momentum and I will continue to work from morning to night, every single day, to build a country that meets our collective yearnings and aspirations. 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.
“May God continue to bless the Federal Republic of Nigeria.
“Bola Ahmed Tinubu
“President and Commander-in-Chief, Federal Republic of Nigeria
“October 26, 2023”
Meanwhile, the seven-justice panel held that Atiku did not prove that the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, did not substantially comply with provisions of the Electoral Act in the conduct of the election.
According to the justices, 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 to establish that failure of INEC to transmit results of the election through its IReV portal, influenced the outcome of the presidential poll.
The panel also held that the Supreme Court had in its past judgements 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, and stressed that INEC’s failure to electronically transmit results of the election, only 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.
The panel also held 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 Presidential Election Petition Court.
It described as misconceived and misplaced Atiku’s argument that Tinubu ought not have been declared winner of the presidential election having failed to secure 25% votes in the Federal Capital Territory (FCT), thereby upholding the position of the PEPC that the FCT does not have a special status superior to any 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,” Justice Okoro, held.
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 Tinubu raised the issue when the respondents had already filed their process. It held that the action denied the respondents the right to fair hearing.
“The ruling of the lower court is unassailable and this court will not interfere,” it held.
The court held that whereas Atiku alleged that the result that was declared by INEC was not accurate, he, however, failed to put forward their perceived rightful result.
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It held 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 won the highest number of votes and was duly declared winner.”
Consequently, the court resolved all the issues that Atiku raised in his petition against him. “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. The judgment of the lower court delivered on September 6 is hereby affirmed. I shall make no order as to cost,” the Supreme Court panel held.