Wednesday’s judgement of the Presidential Election Petition Court will not mark the end of the controversies trailing the outcome of the 2023 presidential election.
DAILY POST recalls that the five-man panel, in a final judgement read by Justice Haruna Simon Tsammani, struck out the three petitions filed by the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, Labour Party, LP, and the Allied Peoples Movement, APM.
The Tribunal resolved all the issues against the petitioners in favour of the respondents, President Tinubu, his Vice, Kashim Shettima and the APC.
While the APM is yet to make its line of action known, both the PDP and the LP candidates, Abubakar Atiku and Peter Obi, respectively, have vowed to challenge the judgement at the Supreme Court.
They made their decisions public on Wednesday shortly after the Tribunal pronounced their petitions dismissed.
However, for the All Progressives Congress, APC, President Bola Ahmed Tinubu and a former President, Muhammadu Buhari, it was an anticipated victory and a true reflection of the wishes of the people.
Tinubu and his party were all praises for the Tribunal for upholding his election.
But in the camp of the PDP and the LP, it is a glaring miscarriage of justice.
They have both vowed to challenge the judgement at the Supreme Court.
In a bid to ensure quick filing of their appeals at the apex court, Atiku’s lawyer, Chief Chris Uche, SAN, requested the Tribunal to make a copy of the judgement available to him to enable his client to exercise his right of appeal.
He said that the former Vice President has directed that appeal against the decision be filed immediately.
Uche told newsmen that Atiku got judgement at the Tribunal but did not get justice, hence, his decision to go on appeal.
Similarly, Livy Uzoukwu, SAN, the lead counsel to Obi confirmed that his client had directed that the judgement be challenged in the Supreme Court.
He wondered why the Tribunal, which ruled against live telecast of proceedings, suddenly allowed live coverage of the judgement.
In response to Atiku’s request, Chairman of the Tribunal, Justice Haruna Simon Tsammani assured that clean copies of the judgement would be released to them on Thursday to enable them proceed on their appeal to the Supreme Court.
Meanwhile, the Labour Party had earlier also rejected the judgement, lamenting that justice was not served.
The National Publicity Secretary of the party, Obiora Ifoh, in a statement shortly after the judgement, said the Party “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 today and we reject the outcome of the judgement in its entirety because justice was not served and it did not reflect the law and the desire of the people.
“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.”
But on his part, President Tinubu relished his victory, assuring Nigerians of his renewed and energised focus on delivering his vision of a unified, peaceful and prosperous nation.
His spokesman, Ajuri Ngelale, said Tinubu welcomed the judgement of the Tribunal 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 noted that he “recognizes the diligence, undaunted thoroughness, and professionalism of the five-member bench, led by Justice Haruna Tsammani in interpreting the law.”
“The President affirms that his commitment to the rule of law, and the unhindered discharge of duties by the Tribunal, as witnessed in the panel’s exclusive respect for the merits of the petitions brought forward, further reflects 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.
“The President believes the Presidential Candidates and Political Parties that have lawfully exercised their rights by participating in the 2023 general elections and the judicial process, which followed, have affirmed Nigeria’s democratic credentials.
“The President urges his valiant challengers to inspire their supporters in the trust that the spirit of patriotism will now and forever be elevated above partisan considerations, manifesting into support for our Government to improve the livelihood of all Nigerians.
“Once more, President Tinubu thanks Nigerians for the mandate given to him to serve our country while promising to meet and exceed their expectations, by the grace of God Almighty, and through very diligent hard work with the team that has been put in place for that sole purpose,” he added.
Former President, Muhammadu Buhari, while also reacting, said the Tribunal has “written history”.
He spoke in a statement signed by his spokesman, Garba Shehu, claiming that the ruling was a win for the people and democracy.
“If anybody has won today it is democracy and the people. With the verdict of the Supreme Court, the election period is over and it is time to put the heat and dust behind us,” Buhari said.
Similarly, the National Chairman of the APC, Abdullahi Umar Ganduje, has commended the presidential election petition tribunal for validating Tinubu’s victory.
In a statement personally signed by Ganduje, he described the judgement as thorough, having addressed all the issues raised by the petitioners.
He urged the PDP and the LP to cooperate with the present administration in its effort to address the challenges facing the country.
The APC National Chairman described the verdict as a true reflection of the presidential election, assuring that the President Tinubu-led administration would surely live up to his electoral promises to reposition the country, achieve the desired growth and progress.
Ganduje noted that the resolve by the PDP and LP presidential candidates, Atiku Abubakar and Peter Obi to challenge President Tinubu’s victory at the tribunal spoke volumes of their faith in the nation’s judicial system.
The APC chief called on the opposition parties to accept the outcome of the tribunal verdict in good faith as it was in tandem with the tenets of democracy and the rule of law.
He noted: “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 or favour by doing the right thing. With this judgement, a precedent has been set for electoral matters in the country.
“The judgement attests to the fact that the rule of law would always reign supreme and our hard-earned democracy would further continue to blossom beyond limits.
“For the opposition, I urge you to accept the verdict of the tribunal. There would always be another round of elections whereby you can test your popularity and acceptability from the electorates. Once more, I congratulate President Tinubu, our teeming supporters who stood by the party through thick and thin.”
Meanwhile, a chieftain of Ohanaeze Ndigbo, Mazi Okechukwu Isiguzoro has begged both Atiku and Obi to end further litigation on the 2023 polls.
Isiguzoro, who is a factional Secretary-General of Ohanaeze, told DAILY POST that it was time to unite and work for the progress and unity of the country.
The Ohanaeze scribe, who recognized the enormity of work facing the Tinubu government, said “both Atiku and Obi have demonstrated strong courage and interest for the good of the country.
“However, only one person can be president at a time, and this time, it is President Bola Ahmed Tinubu.
“We commend His Excellencies Alhaji Atiku Abubakar and Peter Obi for keeping faith with the system, but having gotten this far, we believe it is now time to end further litigation and work with Tinubu for the development of the country.
“There is no doubt that they all mean well for the country; this is why history will judge them fairly. This is a time to bring all ideas on board and help the President to make Nigeria a prosperous nation.
“They should accept the verdict in good faith and not appeal the Tribunal judgement. Nigerians will consider them in future elections if they do so.
“Ohanaeze Ndigbo calls on Nigerians, especially Ndigbo, to remain peaceful. There should be a deeper understanding that the challenges before us as a nation are enormous and they should no longer be willing tools in the hands of desperate politicians, who are angling to destroy the country.”
Isiguzoro, however, advised Tinubu to ensure that every part of the country and interest are carried along by his administration.
“President Tinubu should indeed be magnanimous in victory and should personally visit Peter Obi and Atiku Abubakar. This would go a long way in dousing the heightened tension and calming down the nerves of their supporters.
“This will no doubt quicken and lead to the full realisation of his Renewed Hope Agenda,” Isiguzoro stated.