Alhaji Atiku Abubakar, the PDP’s presidential candidate for 2023, and Mr. Peter Obi, the LP’s presidential candidate, both vowed yesterday to appeal the Presidential Election Petition Court’s (PEPC) dismissal of their petitions challenging President Bola Tinubu’s election to the Supreme Court.
The PEPC ruling “is not coterminous with justice,” according to Obi, and while Atiku claimed he was going to the apex court because he had lost a battle and would face the war ahead rather than “validate mandate banditry,” Obi vowed to continue fighting for electoral justice.
Both Atiku and Obi spoke after the PEPC upheld Tinubu’s election and dismissed petitions from the People’s Democratic Party, the Labour Party, and the Allied People’s Movement on Wednesday.
An angry Atiku.
Atiku likened his defeat at the PEPC, the court of first instance, to a battle, noting that the war was still ahead, and vowed to continue his legal challenge against Tinubu’s victory until the very end.
The ex-vice president urged his supporters to stay loyal yesterday during a press conference held at the PDP National Secretariat in Abuja. I hope they can find comfort in a timeless truth I learned from my late leader and mentor, Shehu Musa Yar’Adua: victory in one battle does not guarantee victory in the war.
We may have lost a battle on Wednesday, but we still have a long way to go before we win the war. And I have faith that we will win the battle to restore faith in our electoral system if we put our trust in God.
He stated that he had the utmost respect for the court’s decision, but that he would have to respectfully reject it due to its lack of justice.
After INEC declared the APC and its candidate the winners of the presidential election on February 25, he went to court, saying, “As you already know, I approached the court.”
For me, going to court is a matter of principle because that is where justice is served. You know that the courageous and fearless decisions of our judiciary have meant so much to me throughout my political career.
As a matter of fact, I am familiar with the court system and have fought my fair share of legal battles.
The judiciary has been a reliable support system for me as I have fought for justice throughout my entire political career.
It is my opinion that the courts have a responsibility to rectify the unfavourable precedents set by the last presidential election in our country and the manner in which it was managed by the electoral umpire, the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC.
“I am afraid that the judgement of the court as rendered by the Presidential Election Petition Tribunal, failed to restore confidence in our dreams of free and fair elections, devoid of human manipulations. 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.
My ultimate goal in this pursuit is to guarantee that democracy is further strengthened through the principles and processes of fair hearing, as I stated at the outset of this legal battle when I instructed my lawyers to file my petition challenging the outcome of the presidential election.
I want to be very clear that the decision of the court of first instance in this case does not live up to even the most minimal of those standards.
So, I’ve come to tell you that the court’s decision from yesterday is respected, but it’s also a decision I’m not going to accept. I can’t accept the verdict because I don’t think it does justice.
“However, I will never allow my disappointment with the court’s verdict to shake my faith in the judicial system as a whole.
Therefore, I have instructed my legal team to exercise my right to appeal to the Supreme Court, as guaranteed by the Constitution.
“It is my firm belief that every election in Nigeria should be free of shady manipulations and the results should accurately reflect the will of the voters.
In my opinion, this is the only way for the full potential of our democratic system to be realised.
Whether or not I am successful in my mission, the record of my effort to establish a system of credible elections in Nigeria will be preserved for posterity.
For my part, I will not condone the theft of government funds through unconstitutional means.
The former presidential candidate Atiku also denied having issued a statement congratulating President Tinubu on the outcome of the election petition tribunal in Abuja.
A fake statement attributed to Atiku’s media adviser, Mr. Paul Ibe, has been widely debunked by the opposition candidate. “Those desperately looking for validation for the usurpation of the mandate of Nigerians,” Atiku said.
To do so would have been a rape on the conscience of Nigerians who have fought for years to enshrine electoral integrity, so Atiku could not have done so.
If they have nothing to hide and are certain of the legitimacy of their victory, they won’t need to use fake news to coerce their political opponents into congratulating them.
Why should a man need constant reassurance? Do we need to verify the truth? Why issue a congratulatory statement and claim that Atiku issued it if your conscience isn’t troubled by the electoral heist you’ve committed, he asked.
We welcome a credible interim opposition – PDP
Acting PDP National Chairman Umar Damagum had earlier stated that the party would be willing to take on the role of a credible opposition while seeking justice in the Supreme Court.
He urged the organization’s constituents, “Do not lose sight of the fact that the NWC is exerting every effort to provide a credible opposition to this government, and that we will continue to pursue our mandate and seek redress in those areas where we expect to give them the opportunity to give us a policy direction.” This is the issue that will determine the fate of the country.
Obi says that judgement and justice are not synonymous.
Obi, on the other hand, completely rejected the PEPC verdict and declared he would appeal to the highest court.
Obi, speaking from his home in Onitsha, expressed respect for the court’s views and rulings but openly disagreed with the judgment’s rationale and final conclusions. He acknowledged the PEPC’s adherence to the statutory time frame.
A statement from him read as follows: “Yesterday, September 6, 2023, the PEPC finally delivered its long-awaited judgements on the petitions challenging the outcome of the presidential election held on February 25, 2023. The statute of limitations applicable to this judgement has expired.
”We appreciate the court’s efforts to protect constitutional rights and strengthen our democracy.
We, the petitioners in this case, respect the court’s opinion and its rulings, but we disagree with the court’s analysis and its final conclusion. To the extent permitted by the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, I, as a presidential candidate, and the Labour Party intend to immediately challenge this judgement by way of appeal.
The Supreme Court has the final say.
“The PEPC has ruled, but that highly respected body is not the last word. The burden is now on the shoulders of the Supreme Court. I am aware that fairness and judgement are not the same thing. Nigerians, I beg you to keep your minds clear, your hearts pure, and your streets calm; to respect the rule of law; and to realise that this issue has not been resolved.
We have instructed our legal team to file an appeal against the ruling. I will not give up until I get what is right, not just for myself but for our millions of cheering fans across the country whose vote of confidence in us at the polls was unfairly cut short by INEC.
Strong national institutions and the public’s trust in them are the bedrock of our democracy. If the INEC performs its statutory functions in a credible, transparent, and observably fair manner, there will be little need for electoral litigation.
When that body fails, as it did recently, subverting the will of Nigerian voters, it is necessary to resort to the courts, as is the case now.