It was a sad and a good day for PDP and APC and their supporters on Wednesday, as the Presidential Election Petition Tribunal (PEPT), delivered its judgement on the petition brought to it by the PDP and its presidential aspirant in the past presidential election, Atiku Abubakar, against the reelection of president Muhammadu Buhari, and the general conduct of the presidential election.
The PEPT in its ruling, dismissed the petition of the PDP and Atiku Abubakar, and upheld the election that brought President Buhari to power in February. The five-man panel led by Justice Garba Muhammad, in a unanimous decision dismissed the petition on the ground that the petitioners were unable to prove their petition beyond reasonable doubt.
The petition dwells mainly on the qualification of Muhammadu Buhari to contest the election due to his lack of secondary school certificate. There are other issues bordering on election malpractice, disenfranchisement, the use of the military to rig in favor of the APC, etc.
Delivering judgement on the bone of contention (certificate), the Tribunal ruled that the certificate from the Nigerian military is higher than the secondary school certificate which is recognized as the minimum academic requirement for election in the Nigerian constitution.
“Mr. Buhari is not only qualified but is eminently qualified for the election.” He said.
The former vice president Atiku Abubakar, and the PDP had in their petition alleged that Buhari filed false information about his education qualification in the affidavit contained in his INEC form CF001. Therefore, they prayed the court to disqualify him for under-qualification and lying to the Nigerian people.
However, the Appellant Court ruled that certificate is not required for anyone to contest a public office. And considering Buhari’s Cambridge certificate, which the Court considered higher than a WAEC certificate, he is more than qualified to run for the highest office in the land.
“A candidate is not required under the Electoral Act to attach his certificate to his form CF001 before a candidate is adjudged to have the requisite qualification to contest the election.” PEPT says.
The petition involving INEC’s server was also dismissed on the ground that Nigerian electoral laws don’t have provisions for electronic transmission of results. And the petitioner’s witness failed to prove beyond reasonable doubt that there was an electronic transmission of results to INEC servers via card readers.
However, the PDP has rejected the judgement and vowed to reclaim what they called “their stolen mandate” in supreme court. The PDP’s lawyers pointed out many loopholes in the judgement that will increase their chances of winning in the Supreme Court.
They mentioned the dismissal of the Nigerian Army’s “denial of being in possession of Buhari’s certificate” as an evidence. But then the use of some parts of the same statement to support the ruling against the PDP.
Nonetheless, President Buhari has expressed his satisfaction over the judgement, saying that it reflects people’s wish. In appreciation message sent through his Twitter handle he said:
“Today’s ruling is a well-deserved victory for Nigerians who trooped out overwhelmingly to elect us for a second term in office. I was unperturbed all along, because I knew Nigerians freely gave us the mandate. We are now vindicated.”
While some are celebrating with the president, others are expressing their disappointment over the ruling, saying that it only shows that the Judiciary has been compromised. They have also urged Atiku and the PDP not to proceed to the Supreme Court because it is clear that they will never get justice.