Nigeria’s Supreme Court, on Thursday, rejected attempts to invalidate President Bola Tinubu‘s recent election victory and dismissed challenges brought forth by the political opposition. These challenges had contended that the election was marred by irregularities and that Tinubu was ineligible for the presidency.
The Supreme Court, in a majority decision, declared that the opposition’s claims lacked merit, thereby bringing an end to a contentious dispute that had cast uncertainty over Africa’s most populous nation following the February election. It’s worth noting that an appeals court in Nigeria had already rejected similar petitions the previous month.
Two other candidates who participated in the election had also separately contested Tinubu’s win, alleging that he did not meet the minimum educational qualifications required to run for office, failed to secure the necessary votes, and accused the country’s electoral commission of not adhering to its procedures in collating and announcing the election results.
Nigeria transitioned to democracy in 1999 after several decades of nearly continuous military rule. However, allegations of electoral fraud and manipulation have been a recurring theme in its electoral processes.
This Supreme Court judgment, which is final, aligns with the pattern observed in past presidential elections that faced legal challenges. None of these previous attempts to overturn election results through the courts have been successful.
During a televised hearing in the Nigerian capital, Abuja, the Supreme Court rejected the challenges brought by the People’s Democratic Party’s Atiku Abubakar and the Labour Party’s Peter Obi in their entirety. This ruling reaffirmed the position of the election tribunal that Tinubu’s victory had followed due process.
Justice Inyang Okoro, who delivered the judgment on behalf of the seven-member court panel, remarked, “It is my view that there is no merit in this appeal,” in reference to Abubakar’s petition. A similar ruling was subsequently issued in Obi’s case.
Furthermore, the court declined to admit new evidence presented by Abubakar’s legal team, which they claimed substantiated their allegations that Tinubu had presented forged academic credentials from an American university. The court cited that the issue of alleged forgery had not been included as one of the original grounds in the petition within the time frame specified by the Nigerian Constitution.
Atiku Abubakar of the People’s Democratic Party and Peter Obi of the Labour Party had finished in second and third place, respectively, in the February election. However, they rejected the election results and called for the annulment of Tinubu’s victory.
Their main arguments in the appeal included claims that the electoral commission had failed to electronically transmit results from polling stations to an online portal, undermining their authenticity. Additionally, they contended that Tinubu had not secured the required 25% of the vote in the federal capital, Abuja, rendering him ineligible for the presidency.
The judges, in a unanimous decision, dismissed all of these arguments. “There is no merit in this appeal, and it is hereby dismissed,” stated Supreme Court Judge John Okoro.
The court also turned down Atiku’s attempt to introduce new evidence alleging that Tinubu had submitted a forged university certificate to the electoral agency, a claim that Tinubu had consistently denied.