The candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in the February 23 presidential election, Alhaji Atiku Abubakar and his party have indicated that they would appeal the judgment of the Presidential Election Petition Tribunal, which Wednesday dismissed their petition challenging the victory of President Muhammadu Buhari.
The five man tribunal in a unanimous judgment dismissed Atiku and PDP’s petition for lacking in merit.
The tribunal chaired by Justice Mohammed Garba said that the petitioners were unable to prove their petition beyond reasonable doubt and accordingly upheld the election of Buhari.
Atiku and PDP in their joint petition filed on March 18, 2019, specifically asked the tribunal to disqualify Buhari, winner of the February 23 presidential election, on the grounds that he (Buhari) did not possess the requisite academic qualification to contest for the office of President.
The petition was premised on five grounds, among which was that Buhari lied about his academic qualification as well as schools attended in his INEC form CF001 submitted to INEC for purpose of contesting the 2019 presidential election.
However, in the judgment delivered by Justice Garba, the tribunal held that the petitioners did not discharge the burden of proof and as such dismissed the petition.
Apart from the issue of alleged non qualification and submission of information of fundamental falsehood to the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) by Buhari to aid his qualification, other issues the petitioners raised included deployment of electronic voting, over voting, substantial non-compliance with the electoral law as well as use of security agencies to rig the election in favour of Buhari.
The tribunal in the unanimous decision held that despite the 62 witnesses called by the petitioners they were unable to prove their allegations against the conduct of the February 23 presidential poll.
In the final analysis the tribunal chairman held that the petition was without merit, liable for dismissal and was consequently dismissed in its entirety without cost against the petitioners.
Reacting to the verdict of the panel outside the court, lead counsel to the petitioners, Dr Levy Uzuokwu (SAN) said that his clients would appeal the tribunal’s decision.
He thanked Nigerians for their overwhelming support, adding that they have truly been encouraging.
“Well we have done our job, the court has also done it’s own job, first of all let me congratulate the millions of Nigerians that have supported us, it encourages us and we are happy about it”, he said.
When asked what is the next step for the petitioners, Uzuokwu however responded this way, “Certainly I don’t think that is the end of the journey”.
National Chairman of PDP Chief Uche Secondus in a separate interview with the media disclosed that the judgment will be carefully and critically studied and then file an appeal at the Supreme Court to test the veracity and popularity of the judgment.
Also speaking, lead counsel to the All Progressives Congress (APC), Prince Lateef Fagbemi (SAN) described the judgment as a good one and commended the justices for the efforts in delivering a quality judgment in the petition.
“The Justices worked hard to ensure the matter didn’t laspe, hardly any aspect of the case that they didn’t touch, there is no aspect that they didn’t resolved, I am satisfied with it”, he said.
Meanwhile, the APC has lauded the judgment.
It also said it considered the judgment as a “bold step by rescuing our nation from the satanic era”.
Lanre Issa-Onilu, the APC spokesperson, in a statement released on Wednesday night following the declaration, hailed the tribunal for ”validating the desires of Nigerians”.
The party also congratulated both President Buhari and Vice Yemi Osinbajo for ”a victory well-deserved.”
It argued that the petitioners, ”hinging their arguments on President Buhari’s qualification and INEC server” had not foreseen that the party (APC) would secure victory.
‘With today’s legal affirmation of President Muhammadu Buhari’s election victory, the APC congratulates the President; the Vice President, Yemi Osinbajo; all members of our great party and, indeed, all well-meaning Nigerians on this landmark judgment.
“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 election.”