NIGERIA’S main opposition the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) has rejected yesterday’s judgment of the Presidential Election Petition Tribunal which upheld that President Muhammadu Buhari was duly elected in February.
In a messy legal battle that has ensued between President Muhammadu Buhari’s All Progressives Congress (APC) and the PDP, which fielded former vice president Alhaji Atiku Abubakar as it presidential candidate, the two parties have been at each other’s throats since the polls. Alhaji Abubakar lost the elections to President Buhari but has refused to accept the result and sought legal redress before the election tribunal.
After over three months of sitting, the tribunal finally pronounced judgement yesterday, declaring that President Buhari was duly elected in the February 23 presidential elections. It also said it has come to an inevitable conclusion that the petitioners have not proved any of the grounds of the petition as known by law and consequently discarded the petition in its entirety.
However, PDP national publicity secretary Kola Ologbondiyan, expressed shock over the judgement, adding that there were so many errors as the tribunal failed to prove fair justice. He described the judgement as provocative, a barefaced subversion of justice and a direct assault on the integrity of the nation’s justice system.
Mr Ologbondiyan said: “PDP is particularly shocked that the tribunal failed to point to justice despite the flawless evidence laid before it, showing that President Buhari was not only unqualified to contest the election but also did not score the majority of valid votes at the polls. The PDP finds as bewildering that a court of law could validate a clear case of perjury and declaration of false information in a sworn affidavit, as firmly established against President Muhammadu Buhari, even in the face of incontrovertible evidence.
“The party is also rudely shocked that the court took over the roles of the respondents’ lawyers who clearly abandoned their pleadings by refusing to call evidence in defence of the petition. 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 party notes as strange that the court even went ahead to provide rationalisations in favour of President Buhari, even when all hard facts before it shows that he did not possess the claimed educational certificate and that the army was not in possession of his West African Examination Certificate as claimed in the affidavit he deposed to in his presidential nomination form.
“The PDP also described as shocking that the court approved the flawed declaration of President Buhari as the winner of the election despite evidence to show the perpetration of illegalities, manipulations, alterations and subtraction of valid votes freely given to Atiku Abubakar by Nigerians. 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.
“The PDP however encouraged Nigerians to remain calm and not to lose hope or surrender to despondency or self-help, as our lawyers are upbeat about obtaining justice at the Supreme Court. This is more so as the tribunal itself admitted that there are several errors in the judgment.”