Buhari vs Atiku: Is ruling an infraction?

The Coalition of United Political Parties (CUPP) has rejected the verdict of the Presidential Election Petition Tribunal describing it as ‘shameful and ratification of electoral fraud’. ABDULRAHMAN ZAKARIYAU captures its objection.

PET judgement

After some three months of painstaking hearing and evaluation of witnesses and oral and written submissions from the petitioners and their respondents, the Presidential Election Petition Tribunal dismissed the petitions filed by the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and its presidential candidate, Atiku Abubakar.

The tribunal in a marathon judgement that last for about nine hours upheld the election of President Muhammadu Buhari who had on February 27 being declared duly elected by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC).

However, the PDP and its presidential candidate, Atiku Abubakar, had approached the PEPT seeking to invalidate the election and prayed that Atiku be declared the winner of the February 23 presidential poll. The tribunal dismissed the petition for lack of merit. Among the key rulings were the rejection of PDP’s claim that the president lacks the basic educational requirement to contest the election, where the tribunal held that he was ‘eminently qualified’, it dismissed claims on use of smart card and internet server, as well as manipulation of results due to irregularities and deployment of security agencies to intimidate, harassed and chased away voters especially in PDP strong holds.

CUPP reacts

But the Coalition of United Political Parties (CUPP) in a swift reaction railed at the judgement describing it as shameful judgment that allegedly turned law upside down. The coalition claims the judgement was skewed in favour of the ruling All Progressives Congress and its candidate and incumbent, President Buhari.

The coalition in a statement by signed by its spokesman, Ikenga Imo Ugochinyere, in Abuja stated, “we received with angst the judgment of the Presidential Election Tribunal delivered Wednesday afternoon upholding President Buhari’s election and we reject it totally since we view it as law turned upside down and an insult and provocation to Nigerians.”

Ugochinyere railed at the tribunal saying: “the tribunal has lost the rare opportunity presented to it by the petition of the consensus opposition candidate, Atiku Abubakar, to put an end to electoral fraud, leadership incompetence and the imposition of an unfit leader on the people.

“By their judgment today, majority of Nigerians who had believed, though erroneously, that the judiciary was indeed independent have been brazenly awakened to the fact and correct belief that the presidency had successfully hijacked the judiciary and Nigerians can only expect judgments and not justice.

“All credible observer groups both local and international were unanimous in their verdict that the election was below the standard of the 2015 and was massively rigged in favour of the president, the Court of Appeal wasted the opportunity and have by so doing endorsed the insecurity in the land, mismanagement of national resources, electoral fraud, forgery of documents and certificates submitted to INEC and indeed threatened the very foundations of our democracy. 

“Could the court as it had done in times past not this time also considered the state of the nation, mood of Nigerians, national security issues and taken a decision boldly, impartially and firmly in the interest of Nigerians and Nigeria? Today’s (Wednesday) judgment is a manipulation of the law and the brazen use of technicality to stamp injustice, rob the people of justice and deny the nation the chance to have a leader that they truly elected in the person of Atiku Abubakar.

Assault on democracy?

“The Nation weeps today, West Africa is crying and the International community is in shock. Our brothers who are been held hostages by poverty, bandits, killed daily etc are now in coma as the appeal court have used today judgment to deny them a saviour and foisted on them a leader who was not eligible for presidential office, a leader who does not have the capacity to govern, a leader who rode on the blood of our people to power using security agencies, a leader who employs divisive weapon and ethnicity in governance and a leader who claims to be fighting corruption but dinning and sleeping with men know to be corrupt. The nation is the loser today, not Atiku Abubakar or the opposition. 

“Nigeria may need more than a decade to repair the damage being done by this government to the very fabrics of our nationhood.

“We however state that we anticipated the villa panel beaten judgment from the justices of court presided over by the wife of a ruling party chieftain and senator. The delay in appointing a replacement when the opposition to her presiding over the panel could not be withstood despite her desperate fight is very instructive of the mindset of the court. The Court of Appeal is clearly in need of cleansing and Nigerians should join in the clamour for that cleansing particularly to immune the court from political interferences.

Assault on judicial officers

“The mid night attack on the homes of some fearless judges, the obnoxious and arbitrary removal of the former Chief Justice of Nigeria and the imposition of a new CJN are pointers to the total hijack of the judiciary for the purpose of serving the executive today’s milk and honey. We duly raised alarm then. The Presidency did not heed and has also gone ahead to totally hijack the National Assembly which its chairman, the Senate President, has pledged their loyalty to the president and not the constitution and the good people of Nigeria who are their employers.

“We point out clearly that the approval for the live airing of the judgment by the court was a phantom act to show transparency which the court clearly lacked. The act was just to hoodwink the people of Nigeria into believing that for granting the novel media right that it was to underscore the openness of the court to the wishes of the people when such live airing have not been allowed in some high profile cases in the past.

However, we saw through these antics and we were not taken in by that. Hence we insist that the tribunal played a dangerous mind game with the people of Nigeria capable of causing chaos.

“However as lawful citizens and apostles of the rule of law, we wish to announce to Nigerians not to lose hope because   our consensus candidate Alhaji Atiku Abubakar is heading to the Supreme Court for a final appeal to reclaim the peoples mandate given to him. We cannot take the law into our hands hence we shall approach the Supreme Court, diligently present our case and believe that the Justices of the Supreme Court will find solace in the fact that their names will be etched in gold and in the sands of time when they do right and do justice by bringing the Buhari reign of impunity, incompetence and stolen mandate to an end.”

It’s a victory for rule of law, decency- APC

Dismissing the CUPP’s reservation for the judgement, the ruling party- the All Progressives Congress (APC) described Buhari’s victory at the tribunal as a victory for the rule of law and decency.

The party in a statement Wednesday in Abuja through its national publicity secretary, Mallam Lanre  Issa-Onilu, said it was an applaudable legal affirmation of the president as the choice of the majority of the Nigerian electorate and even the law.

“The APC congratulates the Judiciary for refusing to succumb to the opposition party’s subterfuge. We note the painstaking efforts and thoroughness of the Justices of the Presidential Election Petition Tribunal in arriving at their decision. Today’s judgment, no doubt, would go down in the annals of our nation as the longest and detailed, spanning almost 10 hours.

“The Judgement by the five-member validates the decision of most Nigerians to do away with the past as expressed in their overwhelming votes in the 2019 elections.

“The PDP and Atiku’s petition was largely hinged on the educational qualification of President Muhammadu Buhari and tales of an Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) server and allegations of electronic transmission of election results. This was rightly dismissed by the Tribunal for lacking in merit.

“From the outset, our party was not perturbed over the PDP and Atiku’s petition, which will go down in Nigeria’s history as the most frivolous in the history of Election Petition. Infact our position has now been justified that the PDP and Atiku’s petition was a complete waste of time. In their puerile efforts, they insisted on taking the country on a circus and wild goose chase. 

“Going forward, APC’s victory at the presidential polls and the election tribunal represents our collective desire as a people to remain focus on the progressive growth and development of our country’s economy, fight against corruption, and providing security.

“Consequently, we have taken a bold step by rescuing our nation from the satanic era of PDP, when our collective interests were being corruptly traded among a few pillagers.

“We note, unfortunately, the continuous efforts being made by the unpatriotic elements in PDP, having held our country down for nearly two decades, to truncate our movement towards greatness. We, however, remain resolute in this journey being ably led by President Muhammadu Buhari. The APC administration would lead this country to the fulfillment of its destiny.”

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