- It’s victory for Nigerians, says President
- PDP: we’ll appeal ‘subversion of justice’
- It’s vindication of Buhari’s character, says Tinubu
- Lawan, Gbaja, others okay verdict
- Wike, Sanwo-Olu, Obaseki, Oyetola, Abiodun, Akeredolu greet President
There was jubilation at the Presidential Villa last night.
It was during the Federal Executive Council (FEC) meeting when news filtered in that the Presidential Election Petition Tribunal had stamped President Muhammdu Buhari’s victory in the February 23, 2019 election.
President Buhari hailed the judgment of the Presidential Election Petition Court (PEPC) as a vindication of his victory and commended the judiciary for “dispensing justice without fear and favour.”
The ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) described the verdict as victory for the rule of law.
The party said in a statement by its National Publicity Secretary, Mallam Lanre Issa-Onilu, that the landmark judgment underscored the refusal of the judiciary to succumb to the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP)’s subterfuge.
However, the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) rejected the verdict, saying it was a perversion of justice.
The main opposition party, in a statement by its National Publicity Secretary, Kola Ologbondiyan, said the judgment was a direct assault on the integrity of the nation’s justice system.
In a statement by the Presidential Adviser on Media and publicity, Femi Adesina, the President called for unity, urging stakeholders to put behind them partisan bickering.
He said: “Good conscience fears no evil report. I was unperturbed all along, because I knew Nigerians freely gave us the mandate. We are now vindicated,”
President Buhari, who dedicated the victory to God and Nigerians, maintained that the judiciary deserved commendation for “dispensing justice without fear or favour.”
He extended a hand of fellowship to aggrieved stakeholders who went to court to challenge his victory, noting that it was within their democratic rights.
President Buhari said: “It is time for the country to move forward as one cohesive body, putting behind us all bickering and potential distractions over an election in which Nigerians spoke clearly and resoundingly.”
He said: “The judgment 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, 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.”
Issa-Onilu recalled that the APC was unperturbed by the litigation, stressing that former Vice President Atiku’s claims were frivolous and meant to waste the time of the tribunal.
In his view, APC’s victory at the presidential poll and the tribunal represent an endorsement of the push for progressive growth and development, the fight against corruption and battle to overcome insecurity.
He said the Buhari administration had taken the bold step to rescue the country from the PDP, which presided over the trading of collective interests by few pillagers.
The Southsest All Progressives Congress (APC) yesterday congratulated President Mohammadu Buhari and Vice-President Yemi Osinbajo for their victory at the Presidential Election Petition Tribunal.
The National Vice Chairman (South West), Bankole Oluwajana, a lawyer, also congratulated the APC National Working Committee, led by Comrade Adams Oshiomhole, for representing the party well at the tribunal.
In a statement by the Zonal Publicity Secretary, Karounwi Oladapo, the party said the judgment truly reflected the outcome of the presidential election as declared by the electoral umpire.
Lagos lawyer Monday Ubani said the tribunal had resolved some critical issues before it.
He added: “The issue of whether President Buhari has a Secondary School Certificate has been laid to rest; the issue of Atiku’s nationality has been settled and that Buhari won the February 23 presidential election convincingly in compliance with the Electoral Act. The judgment was a validation of Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) declaration that Buhari won the election. These rulings stand unless they were overturned by the Supreme Court.”
Ologbondiyan, who expressed shock at the judgment, said despite the flawless evidence before it, the tribunal gave victory to the president.
He said: “The court raked up all manner of excuses to make up for the yawning gaps occasioned by the total absence of any evidence from the respondents. Nigerians and the international community watched in utter disbelief when the tribunal ruled that one need not provide a copy or certified true copy of educational certificate such individual claimed to possess, contrary to established proof of claims of certification.”
The publicity secretary wondered why the tribunal provided rationalisations for President Buhari’s inability to tender his certificate, which he said was with the Army.
Ologbondiyan maintained that the tribunal overlooked the flawed election, despite the evidence of illegalities, manipulations, alterations and subtraction of valid votes given to Atiku by Nigerians.
He added: “Indeed, the pervading melancholic atmosphere across our nation since the verdict is a direct indication that the judgment has not fulfilled the desires and expectations of Nigerians.”
Ologbondiyan urged Nigerians to remain calm and not to lose hope as Atiku’ lawyers will appeal the judgment at the Supreme Court.
PDP chieftains Buba Galadima and Chief Ebenezer Babatope frowned at the judgment, which they described as travesty of justice.
Galadima, who said Nigerians were disappointed at the verdict, said the Supreme Court may upturn it. He said: “I am disappointed in what happened today. There are so many reasons to be disappointed. What we have seen today is that the judges that gave this judgment were not looking for the truth, but personality. This is an issue that the Nigerian judiciary should look into before it plunges the country into problem. When the weak goes to court to seek for redress, the judiciary looks for technicality to dismiss the wishes of the weak.
“We will be looking toward another chance at the Supreme Court. Today as I speak to you, we are in a mourning mood. Nigerians are disappointed. Every Nigerian feels that he has been shortchanged. I want to say that right from the beginning, people knew that the refusal by President Muhammadu Buhari to sign the Electoral Act was deliberate.”
Former Minister of Transport Chief Babatope said Nigerians should work toward the unity of the country.
Babatope said: “I wish Nigerians the best of luck. The judgment of God will come. This nation must continue to exist. The unity must be preserved. We the participants must ensure that we give democracy a chance to strive.”
A lecturer in the Department of Political Science at the Lagos State University (LASU), Ojo, Prof. Sylvester Odion-Akhaine, said with the judgment, the integrity of the judiciary was on trial.
Odion-Akhaine advised Atiku to appeal the judgment at the Supreme Court, adding that the case should be pursued to the logical conclusion.
The National Chairman of the United Progressive Party (UPP), Chief Chekwas Okorie, said the judgment was a victory for democracy, adding that the PDP’s petition was an unnecessary national distraction.
He stressed: “Buhari won the election with a margin of nearly four million votes to his closest rival. We sincerely advise the PDP and its presidential candidate, Atiku Abubakar, to accept the outcome of the election in the spirit of sportsmanship.”
Mixed reactions trailed the judgment in Anambra State. While a PDP chieftain, Osekola Obaze, said the verdict was unacceptable, a human rights activist, Osita Obi said “it’s a big lesson to agents of darkness.”
To Osita Obi, “the social media noise of “Atiku is coming” has ended, advising the PDP candidate to embrace the reality.
Former Anambra State Commissioner for Information and APC chieftain Chief Charles Amilo, described the judgment as a welcome development.
He said: “Today is a sad day for our country, Nigeria. This is a huge missed opportunity to right the ills of this nation. Nigerians should be extremely disappointed with the ruling of the Presidential Election Petition Tribunal. This judgment runs against the weight of the evidence presented.
“Of course, the Tribunal, have spoken and being law abiding, we respect their prerogative opinion. But, we do not accept it. Our candidate, Atiku Abubakar, his running mate, Mr Peter Obi, and our great party, PDP, will seek redress at the Supreme Court. Certainly, in the fullness of time, shall recover our hijacked mandate”
Former Senate Leader Victor Ndoma-Egba said: “It was a very thorough judgment and very lucid and it addressed every issue that was canvassed and I think it is a judgment that has earned the confidence of the public. I congratulate the president for this victory that was foretold.”
Senator Rochas Okorocha said “It will spur the President to do more.”
He added: “With the victory, President Buhari would now be more encouraged to continue to work for the unity, progress and peace of the nation, while the distractions associated with the case while it lasted have now been jettisoned.”
The former Imo State governor commended members of the tribunal for “doing a good job and making the nation proud.”
Okorocha also commended Atiku for “giving good account of himself and for his contributions to the nation’s democracy.”
Source: The Nation