TODAY’S Supreme Court ruling affirming President Bola Tinubu’s victory has sparked a range of reactions among Nigeria’s political class and other citizens.
The ruling followed months of legal battle challenging the legitimacy of Tinubu’s victory in the last presidential election, held on February 25, 2023.
While some political stakeholders and other Nigerians hailed the apex court’s decision, others argued that the judgment was flawed and expressed further loss of hope in the judiciary.
Ruling in a suit filed by the People’s Democratic Party’s (PDP) presidential candidate, Atiku Abubakar, and the Labour Party’s (LP) Peter Obi, the court, headed by a justice, Inyang Okoro, concluded that the election’s outcome was unaffected by the failure of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to transmit the results electronically.
The Supreme Court ruled that Atiku Abubakar failed to provide alternative presidential election results to challenge Bola Tinubu’s victory and also denied Abubakar’s request to submit new evidence. It stated that the deadline for presenting evidence had passed and could not be extended.
The court also said the issue raised in Obi’s appeal, regarding Kashim Shettima’s nominations, had already been addressed and could not be revisited.
Reacting to the court judgment, former President Muhammadu Buhari welcomed the court’s decision to dismiss the appeal of the two opposition parties, stating that the ruling 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 eight-months of expensive legal journey, the nation deserves a break. 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.”
Other members of the ruling party who have expressed satisfaction with the court’s judgment include the Chief of Staff, Femi Gbajabiamila; the party chairman, Abdullahi Ganduje; the Governor of Lagos state, Babajide Sanwo-Olu, and Abdullahi Sule of Nasarawa State.
The Minister of the Federal Capital Territory, Nyesom Wike, Tinubu’s cabinet member from the opposition PDP, also expressed delight, noting that the judgment paved the way for Tinubu to focus on governance.
Meanwhile, the PDP, in a statement by its spokesman Debo Ologunagba, described the ruling as disappointing.
According to the statement, the majority of Nigerians are alarmed, disappointed, and gravely concerned with the reasoning of the Supreme Court.
“The PDP asserts that it is indeed a sad commentary for our democracy that the Supreme Court failed to uphold the provisions of the law. Instead, it trashed the expectation of the majority of Nigerians who looked up to it as a temple of impartiality to deliver substantial justice in the matter having regard to the laws and facts of the case.”
The opposition party also accused the Supreme Court of condoning “serious issues of forgery, falsehood and perjury on the altar of technicalities.
It added that the judgment by the apex court has ‘evidently shaken’ the confidence of Nigerians in the judiciary, especially the Supreme Court, as the last hope of the common man.
In the same vein, Obi’s counsel, Kenneth Okonkwo, said although the decision was binding, he disagreed with the court ruling as the case of ‘forfeiture’ was not explained in detail.
He also noted that the Supreme Court agreed that the election was not credible.
Okonkwo, however, revealed that the case had been laid to rest as the court has the power to interpret the Constitution.
Some Nigerians have also taken to social media, particularly on X, to express mixed feelings over the court judgment.
A user, @MissPearls, said “Why do we waste time, energy, money and other valuable resources on elections? I really feel we should save all we spend on elections and allow the Supreme Court pick our leaders. It doesn’t make sense anymore!”
Also, a social media influencer, @PoojaMedia, said since the court has upheld Tinubu’s victory, it’s “time to focus on the real deal in the country and put this administration on their toes for the betterment of all.”
He noted that it’s time to ask questions, ask for accountability and put them under pressure.
“Call them out on economy, education, infrastructure, health and security issues,” he added.
Tinubu hails court ruling, seeks support of Nigerians
Tinubu, in a statement he signed, welcomed the court’s verdict.
He said the verdict had reinforced his commitment to serving all Nigerians, regardless of their political beliefs, tribes, and faiths.
He also sought the support of Nigerians in advancing the country towards prosperity.
“There is no doubt, with the profound judgment of today, that our electoral jurisprudence and constitutional democracy are further consolidated and embedded more indelibly in our national identity because of the diligence and undaunted professionalism of the honourable justices who presided over the matter.
“While the verdict of today has laid to rest the agitating discourse over who truly won the 2023 presidential election and met the constitutional requirements as laid out by law, I want to reiterate that my faith in our nation’s judiciary has never been shaken, not even for a moment, because I know that our hallowed courts of law will not fail to administer justice to all Nigerians in all matters and at all times,” the president said.