There has been a deluge of prominent voices emphasizing the need for all Nigerians to work together to lift the country to greater heights following the Supreme Court ruling on Thursday affirming Bola Ahmed Tinubu as the duly elected President of the country.
The Supreme Court had, in a ruling delivered by Justice Inyang Okoro, upheld the judgement of the Presidential Election Petition Court (PEPC) that affirmed President Tinubu’s electoral victory.
A seven-judge panel of the apex court dismissed the appeals by the presidential candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Atiku Abubakar, and that of the Labour Party, Peter Obi, which sought to upturn Tinubu’s victory on grounds of qualification, non-compliance with the Electoral Act, 25 percent votes in FCT, and electoral malpractices.
The apex court rejected the additional evidence from Chicago State University (CSU) presented by Atiku Abubakar, stressing that fresh evidence could not be entertained and that the evidence was belated.
“An election tribunal shall determine its judgment within 180 days of filing of petition and therefore the Court of Appeal lost jurisdiction after 180 days,” Justice Okoro ruled.
“The Supreme Court cannot activate its Section 22 of the Supreme Court Act after 180 days has lapsed at the lower court. I still wonder how the appellants intend to use the evidence in this appeal.
“The application to file fresh evidence runs foul of the provisions of the Electoral Act that prohibits the amendment of election petition of 21 days of the election petition.
“The Supreme court found as ridiculous the submission of Atiku Counsel that the 180-day rule does not apply to court of appeal sitting on the presidential election petition.
“The provision of the Constitution has spoken. There cannot be an addendum. Appeals are continuation of hearing on matters of the lower court,” he said.
Former President Muhammadu Buhari, in a statement congratulating President Tinubu, noted that the Supreme Court’s decision to dismiss the appeals by the PDP and Labour Party candidates was “a reaffirmation of the will of the majority of the people against the determined will of a hard-fighting minority”.
“Now that we have arrived at the last bus stop, after a tortuous 8-months of expensive legal journey, the nation deserves a break,” Buhari said in the statement signed by his Senior Special Assistant on Media and Publicity, Mallam Garba Shehu.
“The opposition has fought a good fight. Having now exhausted their rights as constitutionally allowed, they should take the hand of fellowship extended by the Tinubu/Shettima @OfficialAPCNg government.
“Let them allow the government to run their administration and the people to enjoy the full benefits of the promises the All Progressives Congress (APC) made,” he said.
Deputy Senate President, Senator Barau I. Jibrin, who also welcomed the judicial decision as a resounding victory for democracy, urged all concerned parties, particularly Atiku Abubakar and Peter Obi, to accept the Supreme Court’s verdict gracefully and unite with President Tinubu to confront the challenges facing the nation.
“The legal battle has concluded with today’s judgment by the Supreme Court, confirming the triumph of President Bola Ahmed Tinubu in the February 25, 2023, presidential election. This is a win not just for President Tinubu but for all Nigerians, for democracy itself, and it paves the way for a brighter future for our nation,” Senator Jibrin said in a statement released through his Special Adviser on Media & Publicity, Ismail Mudashir.
“It is now time for all to join forces with the president to realize his ambitious programmes and policies, as outlined in the Renewed Hope Agenda, for the development of our nation,” he said.
Welcoming the Supreme Court judgement earlier, President Tinubu called on all Nigerians to join him in to working to build a greater country, promising to exceed expectations in terms of service delivery in the remaining years of his administration.
In a statement titled “It is time for us to build our great nation together”, Tinubu said on the merits of the law and without fear or favour, the court had done justice to all issues put up for consideration in the petitions filed by the candidates of the PDP and the Labour Party challenging the PEPC ruling.
“With deep gratitude to God Almighty, I solemnly and humbly accept today’s judicial victory with an intense sense of responsibility and a burning desire to meet the great challenges confronting our people,” Tinubu said on Thursday.
He said his judicial victory has further energised and strengthened his commitment to continue to serve all Nigerians of all political persuasions, tribes, and faiths with honour and total respect for the diverse opinions and uniting values of the citizens.
He said his administration’s Renewed Hope agenda for a greater and prosperous Nigeria has further gained momentum and promised to continue to work tirelessly “to build a country that meets our collective yearnings and aspirations”.
“We are all members of one household, and this moment demands that we continue to work and build our country together. The strength of our diversity and the great citizenship that binds us must now compel us forward in directing the energy of our people toward building a virile, stronger, united, and more prosperous country,” Tinubu said.
“In the days and months ahead, I trust that the spirit of patriotism will be elevated into supporting our administration to improve the living conditions of Nigerians. I am prepared to welcome the contributions of all Nigerians to foster and strengthen our collective progress,” he said.