Romanus Ugwu, Godwin Tsa, Ndubuisi Orji, Juliana Taiwo-Obalonye, Abuja , Clement Adeyi, Osogbo, Chinelo Obogo
Presisdent Muhammadu Buhari, yesterday, offered the Olive branch to the Peoples democratic Party (PDP) and its candidate, Atiku Abubakar, as the Supreme Court deleivered its judgment on the February 23 election.
Reacting to the verdict through a statement by his Senior Special Assistant on Media and Publicity, Malam Garba Shehu, he told the main opposition party and its candidate to put the issue of the election behind them and move on.
He lauded the former vice president’s courage to follow due process in the pursuit of their dream . He said “The former vice president and his political party exercised their rights, under the Nigerian Constitution and electoral laws, to petition the courts and dispute this result.
‘‘They did so first at the Presidential Election Petition Tribunal which ruled in September 2019 against them. Now – following his appeal to the Supreme Court and its ruling to dismiss their case for “lacking merit” – this matter is now closed.
“The president and government of Nigeria do wish to extend our gratitude to former vice-president and his party for undertaking their campaign through protestations to the courts.
‘‘In this regard they have conducted themselves in line with the laws of the country they sought to lead.
“Now, following this final legal bid before the highest court, it is time the country is afforded the right to move on – in the interest of all Nigerians – regardless of how they voted.
“The elected President and his government now must be enabled to focus solely on addressing the issues that concern the country….
“The opposition, as much as the government, must now move on – and without the need for further distractions.’’
Meanwhile, a cocktail of reactions have trailed the judgment which dismissed the appeal of the PDP and Atiku and pronounced President Buhari as duly elected.
They had approached the apex court with 66 grounds of appeal.
Delivering judgment, Justice Tanko Mohammad, Chief Justice of Nigeria (CJN), led the other justices to unanimously dismiss the appeal for lacking in merit.
The other justices on the panel were Bode Rhodes Vivour, Ejembi Eko, Olukayode Ariowola, Amiru Sanusi and Uwani Aba-Aji.
“We have examined all the briefs and exhibits for over two weeks and we have agreed that there is no merit in this appeal.
“The appeal is hereby dismissed and reasons for our decision would be given on a date to be announced,’’ Mohammad said.
Judiciary undermined by cabal –Atiku
Reacting on his verified Twitter handle, Atiku claimed the judiciary had been sabotaged and undermined by a cabal. He said despite his loss at the Supreme Court, his spirit was not broken.
“It is said that the Supreme Court is not final because it is infallible, but that it is infallible because it is final. 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.
“Whether justice was done is left to the Nigerian people to decide. As a democrat, I fought a good fight for the Nigerian people. I will keep on fighting for Nigeria and for democracy, and also for justice. I thank all Nigerians who have stayed the course since the commencement of trial in the petition on the February 23 presidential election.
“The judgment is part of democratic challenges we must face as a nation. The Nigerian judiciary, just like every estate of our realm, has been sabotaged and undermined by an overreaching and dictatorial cabal, who have undone almost all the democratic progress the PDP and its administrations nurtured for 16 years, up until 2015.”
His deputy, Mr. Peter Obi said concern about the judgment should not be about the parties or the candidates but about the society and what we are bequeathing to our children.
The former Governor of Anambra said in a statement from his media office in Abuja that they decided to approach the court after the election because they were sufficiently convinced that what was declared by INEC did not reflect the vote cast by majority of Nigerians.
Obi commended Nigerians for their commitment to PDP and to democracy and urged them not to relent.
PDP expresses shock
The PDP, in a statement by its national publicity secretary, Kola Ologbondiyan, expressed shock at the judgment.
He said that the PDP indeed made a solid case, with indisputable evidence, showing that Atiku won the election.
Ologbondiyan stated that the party was as such surprised that the justices of the Supreme Court held otherwise.
“However, that is the highest court of the land. Notwithstanding, the distinction our case remains for Nigerians, including generations yet unborn, to appreciate,’’ he stated.
Leave judgment to God –Secondus
National chairman of the PDP, Uche Secondus, in a statement by his media adviser, Ike Abonyi, said the nation’s apex court had ruled but the final judgment comes from God Almighty. He urged Nigerians to “leave it to God, the ultimate judge.”
We’re not surprised – APC
If the main opposition party was shocked, the APC said the judgment did not come as a surprise.
In a statement signed by its national publicity secretary, Malam Lanre Issa-Onilu, APC said: “We congratulate Nigerians, the President, Vice-President Yemi Osinbajo, party leaders, members and supporters on the Supreme Court’s verdict.
“Following the earlier judgment of the 2019 Presidential Election Petitions Tribunal, which dismissed in its entirety the PDP and Atiku’s petition, the apex court is apt in dismissing the appeal for lacking merit,” Issa-Onilu said.
According to him, the party hailed the judiciary for standing firm in the face of the PDP and Atiku’s subterfuge and for siding with the Nigerian electorate.
Lawan, govs congratulate Buhari, APC
Senate President, Dr. Ahmad Lawan, said the unanimous verdict has removed whatever doubt might have been raised on the integrity of the last presidential election.
“The petitioners should gracefully accept the final verdict of our court of law while the winners should demonstrate magnanimity by extending the hand of fellowship to the opposition.
“This is with a view to carrying all Nigerians along in the arduous task of nation-building.”
He urged the president and his government to continue to focus on good governance to deliver on the administration’s agenda of improving the lives of Nigerians and putting the nation on the path of sustainable development.
He said the ninth National Assembly would continue to produce good legislation and pursue a harmonious relationship between the organs of government and among Nigerians for the unity, peace and progress of the country.
On its part, the Northern Governors Forum said the validation of President Buhari’s election at the Supreme Court was well-deserved.
In a statement by the forum’s chairman, Governor of Plateau State, Simon Lalong, said the affirmation of the mandate cleared the path for the President to settle down in taking Nigeria to the ‘Next Level’ without any distractions.
In his reaction, Governor Adegboyega Oyetola of Osun State said the victory has put paid to the legal battle over the 2019 presidential election.
Oyetola, however, urged lovers of democracy to commend the resilience of the judiciary in deepening the country’s democracy through its sound judgments.
“With this judgement, it is my hope that the verdict has put to an end the needless bickering, distractions and provocation that greeted the 2019 presidential election,” he said.
New dawn – Tinubu
While congratulating Buhari, APC national leader, Asiwaju Bola Tinubu, said: “The rule of law conclusively affirmed the collective voice of the people by dismissing the petition filed by the Peoples Democratic Party and their presidential candidate, former Vice President Atiku Abubakar. The sun rose high in the Nigerian sky today to shine its light over the entire land.”
In a statement he personally signed, Tinubu also commended PDP and Atiku “for the energetic electoral campaign they conducted and for their tenacious pursuit of what they believed was their legal remedies.”
He said the PDP and former presidential candidate should now channel the energy and intellect deployed in the electoral and legal processes toward joining APC “to move this nation more rapidly and assuredly forward.”
The statement, titled “Presidential Election: Supreme Court Affirms Will of the People” read in part: “This decision and this day will be recorded as important milestones on Nigeria’s insuperable march toward perfecting democracy and the rule of law across our land. Democracy has been affirmed and strengthened. By its ruling, the Supreme Court also affirmed that the rule of law is paramount; that the law is to be applied objectively, without regard to fear, friend or foe.”
Decision affirms supremacy of the people –Malami
The Attorney-General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami, described it as affirmation of the supremacy of the people.
Reacting to the decision at the end of the Federal Executive Council meeting, presided over by Vice President, Yemi Osinbajo, Malami told State House Correspondents that it was also that it was a testimony to the supremacy of democracy.
The AGF said: “It is a testimony to the supremacy of democracy and that democracy has eventually succeeded. The mandate that has been accorded this government by great majority of Nigerian citizens who overwhelmingly voted this government into power has been reaffirmed.
“It’s a success for the judicial system that has looked into the mandate that majority of Nigerians gave this government, the court of appeal confirmed and reconfirmed same, and it is a further reinforcement of the supremacy of the people, votes of the people that the Supreme Court this morning confirmed the decision of the court of appeal by affirming the mandate that has been accorded President Muhammadu Buhari, by the general consensus of the people, the court of the appeal for the purpose of determining the fate of the election petition that was filed by the PDP. “Unanimous decision was handed down affirming…,” he said.
Opposition remains undaunted –Reps Minority caucus
The House of Representatives, Minority caucus has said that the judgment of the Supreme Court on the petition filed by the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and its 2019 presidential candidate, Atiku Abubakar, against the election of President Muhammadu Buhari will not deter the opposition in performing its constitutional role of ensuring checks and balances in the system.
The minority leader, Ndudi Elumelu, in a statement, yesterday, said the judgment came as a surprise to many Nigerians.
Regardless, Elumelu stated that the opposition in the Green chamber remain unshaken in its commitment to protect the interest of Nigerians at all times.
He noted that the minority caucus is determined to ensure that there is accountability, equity, fairness and strict adherence to the rule of law in all aspects of governance.
The minority leader expressed appreciation to Nigerians for standing with the PDP throughout the period of litigation process.
He asured that “ all hope is not lost, as the opposition will continue to insist on due process as well as propagate alternatives on programmes and policies in the general interest of the citizens.”