President of the Senate, Ahmad Lawan, Speaker, House of Representatives, Hon. Femi Gbajabiamila, Leader of the All Progressives Congress, APC, Asiwaju Ahmed Bola Tinubu, Governor Nyesom Wike of Rivers State and former Lagos State Governor, Akinwunmi Ambode have, among many others, congratulated President Muhammadu Buhari on his victory at the Presidential Election Petition Tribunal.
The Tribunal, on Wednesday, dismissed the petition by the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, and its candidate, Atiku Abubakar, in its entirety.
But the PDP, in its reaction, said that it “completely rejects the judgment …describing it as provocative, barefaced subversion of justice and direct assault on the integrity of our nation’s justice system.”
The party said, in a statement by its National Publicity Secretary, Kola Ologbodinyan, that it “is particularly shocked that the tribunal failed to point to justice despite the flawless evidence laid before it, showing that President Buhari was not only unqualified to contest the election but also did not score the majority of valid votes at the polls.”
Senator Lawan, who congratulated President Buhari and the APC, in a statement by Ola Awoniyi, his Special Adviser on Media, said: “The judgment of the tribunal has again put a judicial seal on the mandate freely given to the president by the Nigerian people in the February 23 presidential election.”
He urged the President to accept the affirmation of his election as a reminder of the confidence of Nigerians in his capacity to continue to lead Nigeria towards its manifest destiny of greatness.
The Senate President said the Nigerian people have great expectations from the Next Level Agenda of the President and further pledged the full cooperation of the National Assembly with the Executive in the pursuit of the best interest of the Nigerian people.
Lawan also commended the petitioners for using the judicial window prescribed by the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria in seeking redress for their grievances and urged them to join hands with the government and the Nigerian people in the important task of nation-building.
Gbajabiamila, in his congratulatory message to Buhari and the APC applauded the Nigerian Judiciary, especially members of the Presidential Election Petition Tribunal, for doing its job without fear or favour.
In a statement he personally signed, Speaker Gbajabiamila felicitated with Nigerians and the entire members of the APC family nationwide for the victory.
“I am elated to congratulate the President on his victory at the tribunal. Ab initio, I had no doubt whatsoever in my mind that the President would come out victorious, considering the massive support Nigerians gave the President before and during the February 23 Presidential Election.
“May I also congratulate the Nigerian Judiciary for living up to expectations by doing the right thing. With this judgement, a precedent has been set for electoral matters in the country,” the Speaker said.
Gbajabiamila equally commended PDP and its Presidential Candidate Atiku for testing the country’s laws in a peaceful manner.
Asiwaju Tinubu, in his message, said the tribunal verdict was a resounding judicial vindication of President Buhari’s personal character and his electoral victory.
In a statement entitled “Presidential Election Tribunal Verdict, Justice Served, Democracy Saved,” Asiwaju Tinubu said: “With the unanimous ruling of the Court of Appeal dismissing the Presidential Election Petition of PDP candidate Alhaji Abubakar Atiku today, the rule of law came to the defense of democracy by affirming the sovereign will of the people. Their will was expressed during the February 23 election when a vast, compelling majority of the electorate cast their ballots for President Buhari to serve a second term as Head of State and Commander-in- Chief of our beloved nation.
“Whatever partisan side one might take, all must agree that today was a bright day for the administration of justice. The Court of Appeal rendered a comprehensive judgment of extraordinary thoroughness, reason and breadth on the many issues presented in this important matter. The Court did so in the open air and before the television cameras that gave eyes to the entire nation to watch this fine moment for the Nigerian judiciary. The court did its job by following the law of the land wherever it might lead.
“As a Nigerian, I was proud to see both sides of this dispute behave with utmost civility and decorum despite the weight of the matters at stake and the intensity of the legal arguments presented. It is in this spirit that we must always seek to resolve even our most stubborn differences that we may emerge a stronger yet more peaceful nation.
“Former Vice President Atiku and his legal team put forth some imaginative, if desperate, arguments as was their right. They fought vigorously for their positions and were allowed to do so without pressure and without fear. No one used the power of the state to intimidate them in court just as no one used the power of the state to intimidate them during the election. As the Court affirmed, the election was free and fair and the final result should stand.
“The PDP claimed that President Buhari was unqualified to run for office. To his credit, President Buhari took this assault against his character with customary grace. The court thoroughly vindicated him. Based on his education and the experiences gained through his fine career, the Court determined the evidence presented by Atiku showed that the President was “eminently qualified” and had done nothing untoward in his election filings with INEC.
“Atiku also placed unfounded reliance on the assertion of the use of card readers to send election results to an imaginary server. The court found that the operative law did not provide for the alleged electronic transmission of polling booth results. Atiku could not present evidence that such transmissions ever took place. In fact, such transmissions were technologically unfeasible. Card readers were not meant for this task and the purported mystery server was but a phantom in the PDP’s mind.
“To their credit, Atiku’s team argued and pressed their case energetically; but in the end their claims were based on things that existed only in their minds. They were arguing what they wanted to have happened not what actually took place. The Court, on the other hand, can only deal with facts at hand not the imaginings of the mind.
“Most importantly, the Court found that the election was properly conducted and that President Buhari won by the wide margin counted and recorded by INEC. Atiku was given the chance to prove his case. In the end, he did not produce the requisite evidence. This failure was not from lack of trying; the failure was because such evidence simply does not exist. President Buhari won the election openly and honestly.
“I congratulate President Buhari for this resounding judicial vindication of his personal character and of his electoral victory. I know Mr. President as a magnanimous person who will reach out his hand in friendship to Atiku in the spirit of reconciliation, national tranquility and progress. We may disagree and argue as brothers but never as enemies who cannot resolve whatever difference that has come between us.
“The next step lies with Atiku. He can decide to continue with these claims or he can take the more prudent approach by accepting the express will of the people and placing his ample talents in the service of the nation in his private capacity.
“In the meantime, this day shall stand as a proud day for Nigeria, a day when the rule of law stood in full support of democratic elections and of the sovereignty of the Nigerian people to select the leaders of their choice.”
Governor Wike, on his part, congratulated President Buhari on the validation of his election by the Tribunal and urged him to use his victory to work for all Nigerians, irrespective of their political leanings.
He also called on the President to work towards the unity of the country, noting that the country is divided.
Former governor Ambode, in his message of congratulation said: “I join millions of Nigerians, the leadership of our great party and all members of our party across the nation to congratulate President Muhammadu Buhari on this well-deserved victory at the Tribunal. This victory is a validation of the confidence in the President’s re-election and a testament to the fact that the people are happy with the progress made by his administration and are keen to see four more years of progressive governance,” he said.
He urged all supporters of the party and Nigerians in general to rally round President Buhari in his quest to return Nigeria to the path of greatness and respectability.
The PDP in its statement stressed that it “finds as bewildering that a court of law could validate a clear case of perjury and declaration of false information in a sworn affidavit, as firmly established against President Muhammadu Buhari, even in the face of incontrovertible evidence.
“The party is also rudely shocked that the Court took over the roles of the Respondents’ lawyers who clearly abandoned their pleadings by refusing to call evidence in defense of the petition. The court raked up all manner of excuses to make up for the yawning gaps occasioned by the total absence of any evidence from the Respondents.
“Nigerians and the international community watched in utter disbelief when the tribunal ruled that one need not provide a copy or certified true copy of educational certificate such individual claimed to possess, contrary to established proof of claims of certification.
“The party notes as strange that the court even went ahead to provide rationalizations in favour of President Buhari, even when all hard facts before it shows that he did not possess the claimed educational certificate and that the Army was not in possession of his WAEC certificate as claimed in the affidavit he deposed to in his Presidential nomination form.
“The PDP also described as shocking that the court approved the flawed declaration of President Buhari as the winner of the election despite evidence to show the perpetration of illegalities, manipulations, alterations and subtraction of valid votes freely given to Atiku Abubakar by Nigerians.
“Indeed, the pervading melancholic atmosphere across our nation since the verdict is a direct indication that the judgment has not fulfilled the desires and expectations of Nigerians.
“The PDP however encouraged Nigerians to remain calm and not to lose hope or surrender to despondency or self-help, as our lawyers are upbeat in obtaining justice at the Supreme Court.”
This is more so as the tribunal itself admitted that there are several errors in the judgment.”