Former Vice President Atiku Abubakar issued a resounding rejection of the verdict delivered by the Presidential Election Petitions Tribunal on Thursday.
The Tribunal had upheld President Bola Tinubu’s victory in the hotly contested presidential election held on February 25, 2023.
Atiku Abubakar, a prominent figure in Nigerian politics, expressed his dissatisfaction with the tribunal’s ruling, asserting that it did not succeed in restoring the much-needed confidence in the electoral process.
Atiku Abubakar has declared that he feels aggrieved by the tribunal’s decision and has taken the step of instructing his legal team to initiate an appeal against the verdict.
“Gentlemen of the press, I take great pains to tell you that the decision of the court of first instance on this matter utterly falls far short of that expectation. I am therefore here to tell you that, though the judgment of the court yesterday is respected, it is a judgment that I refuse to accept. I refuse to accept the judgment because I believe that it is bereft of substantial justice. However, the disappointment in the verdict of the court can never destroy my confidence in the judiciary,” he said in a press briefing on Thursday.
“Consequently, I have asked my lawyers to activate my constitutionally guaranteed rights of appeal to the higher court, which, in the instance, is the Supreme Court. It is my conviction that the electoral process in Nigeria should be devoid of untidy manipulations and that the outcome of every election should be a perfect reflection of the wishes of the electorate.
“I believe that such is the only way through which our democracy can have a manifest expression of its true meaning. Whether I prevail in this quest or not, the record of my effort in ensuring an order of credible elections in Nigeria shall remain for the future generations to evaluate.”
In a recap of recent events, it’s important to note that both Atiku Abubakar and Peter Obi firmly rejected the tribunal’s judgment, which upheld President Tinubu’s election victory. Kehinde Edun, the Legal Adviser to the Labour Party, expressed a determined commitment to challenging the tribunal’s decision in the Supreme Court.
Furthermore, Atiku Abubakar’s Lead Counsel, Chris Uche, SAN, confirmed that he had received clear instructions from his client to proceed with filing an appeal at the Supreme Court. This comes after the tribunal dismissed the case brought by Atiku, the presidential candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party, as well as his counterpart from the Labour Party, Peter Obi, ultimately affirming Tinubu’s triumph.
“The judgment has been delivered but we have not received justice. Luckily, the law has given us leverage to go on appeal to the Supreme Court. We have instructions from our clients to go to the Supreme Court. The struggle continues.”
Making valid his stance during a press conference held on Thursday, Atiku conveyed that he is no stranger to legal battles and affirmed his commitment to persistently seek legal recourse through the judiciary for relief.
“My decision to go to court is anchored in my belief that the court is the sanctuary of justice. The journey of my political career, as you know, holds so much to the courage and fearless decisions of our judiciary.
“Indeed, I am no stranger to legal battles, and I can say that I have a fair idea of how the court system works. All through my career as a politician, I have been a fighter, and I must say that I have found the judiciary as a worthy pillar to rest on in the pursuit of justice.
“The last presidential election in our country and the way it was managed by the electoral umpire, the Independent National Electoral Commission, leaves behind unenviable precedents, which I believe the courts have a duty to redress.
“Our gains in ensuring transparent elections through the deployment of technology was heavily compromised by INEC in the way it managed the last presidential election, and I am afraid that the judgement of the court as rendered by the Presidential Election Petition Tribunal yesterday, failed to restore confidence in our dreams of free and fair elections devoid of human manipulations.
“Like I did say at the beginning of this legal battle when I instructed my lawyers to file my petition challenging the outcome of the presidential election, my ultimate goal in this pursuit is to ensure that democracy is further strengthened through the principles and processes of fair hearing,” he concluded.