A group, Niger Delta Congress, has faulted the judgment of the Presidential Election Petition Court in Abuja which affirmed Bola Tinubu as the validly elected President of Nigeria.
Mr Tinubu of the All Progressives Congress (APC) was, on 1 March, declared winner of the 25 February Presidential election by the Independent National Electoral Commission.
The APC candidate polled 8,794,726 votes to defeat his closest challenger, Atiku Abubakar of the Peoples Democratic Party who scored 6,984,520 votes.
The Labour Party candidate, Peter Obi, came third with 6,101,533 votes.
Dissatisfied with the election results, Mr Obi and Atiku, filed separate petitions to challenge the victory of Mr Tinubu at the court. Another political party, the All Peoples Movement, also filed a similar petition against Mr Tinubu’s election.
They alleged in the petitions, among others, that the election was marred by widespread irregularities and corrupt practices, including inflation of Mr Tinubu’s votes in virtually all the 36 states of the federation and the country’s capital, Abuja.
Mr Obi and Atiku separately asked the court to either declare them the winner of the election or order a fresh poll. The petitioners also requested that, should the court order for a fresh poll, Mr Tinubu and his party, the APC, should be barred from participating in it.
Delivering judgment on Wednesday, a five-member panel of judges led by Haruna Tsammani affirmed Mr Tinubu’s election, after dismissing all the three petitions challenging his victory.
The panel unanimously stressed that there was a total lack of credible evidence adduced by the petitioners to support their cases and described some of the legal arguments of Atiku and Mr Obi as “fallacious and ridiculous”.
Reacting, the spokesperson of the Niger Delta Congress, Mudiaga Ogboru in a statement on Thursday, said the group was “concerned” with the judgment of the court.
The group stressed that “a fair and impartial judiciary” remained the cornerstone of a thriving democracy, adding that the concerns from Nigerians surrounding the judgment had raised important questions about the “health, trajectory and trustworthiness” of Nigeria’s democratic institutions.
The statement said although the group was careful not to define justice according to their own sentiments and wishes, they would not shy away from pointing “obvious judicial issues” in the judgment.
While highlighting some of its concerns on the judgment, the group claimed that the court “did not adequately address inconsistencies in evidence or thoroughly investigate” allegations of irregularities.
“The judgment downplays the importance of ensuring the integrity of the electoral process. We are dismayed that the judiciary failed to address electoral misconduct effectively such as voter’s intimidation, ethnic profiling, use of violence by state and non-state actors which in some significant cases culminated to grievous physical harm against the electorate,” the group said.
It added that they were equally concerned that the judgment failed to provide “adequate remedies for any proven irregularities,” stressing that the failure further raises the question of the court’s pursuit of justice and what the future holds for the country.
“Overall, the tribunal failed to provide clear and convincing explanations for its conclusions which have led to a loss of confidence, dismay and legitimate worry by millions of Nigerians as regards the sacredness of their fundamental rights to those institutions which are charged with the responsibility of ensuring these rights are upheld at all times against the powerful and affluent seeking to erode or undermine them,” it said.
“What this portends for the future of Nigeria should give all and sundry cause for concern.”
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