The presidential candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party in Nigeria’s general election Atiku Abubakar has reacted to the dismissal of his appeals by the country’s highest court on Wednesday for lacking “merits”.
72-year-old Atiku, a former ally of the Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari, 76, described the judgment as a part of the “challenges” Nigeria must survive.
“While I believe that only God is infallible everywhere, and only Nigerians are infallible in our democracy, I must accept that the judicial route I chose to take, as a democrat, has come to a conclusion,” Atiku Abubakar wrote on Twitter, hours after the Supreme Court sealed his fate.
The ruling brings an end to an eight-month bitter legal battle since the delayed presidential poll in February.
Abubakar challenged the victory of President Buhari in the February 2019 poll at the Presidential Election Tribunal and at the Supreme Court, after he branded the result of the poll a “sham”.
Buhari took 56 percent of the vote against 41 percent for Abubakar, the electoral commission said in February, but with a turnout of just 35.6 percent compared with 44 percent in 2015.
At the tribunal, Abubakar claimed that the election was marred by irregularities, that he received more votes than Buhari, and the president did not have a secondary school certificate, a basic requirement to contest the election.
But the tribunal rejected Abubakar’s bid to overturn the result of the poll.
“This petition is hereby dismissed in its entirety,” Justice Mohammed Lawal Garba said announcing the ruling. All five judges who presided over the tribunal rejected Abubakar’s claims.
The PDP said in a tweet it “completely rejects the judgment”, which it described as a “direct assault on the integrity of our nation’s justice system”.
Subsequently, the party and it’s presidential candidate proceeded to file an appeal against the tribunal ruling at the country’s Supreme Court.
At the apex court sitting on Wednesday, the court dismissed Abubakar’s appeal for lacking merits.
“We have examined all the briefs and the exhibits for over two weeks and we agree that there is no merit in this appeal,” Chief Justice Tanko Muhammad said on Wednesday following the Supreme Court’s judgement.
“The appeal is dismissed,” he concluded, in an unanimous decision with six other justices.
But Abubakar, a former Nigerian vice president, insisted he won the election and that the Wednesday judgment was compromised, saying that the country’s judiciary is not free.
“In a democracy, you need a strong judiciary, a free press and an impartial electoral umpire. Nigeria has none of those three elements as at today,” he said
Every election result has been contested unsuccessfully since Nigeria returned to democracy in 1999, with the exception of the 2015 poll in which Goodluck Jonathan conceded defeat to Buhari.