Nigeria’s major opposition party, Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) on Wednesday completely rejected the judgment of the Presidential Election Petition Tribunal, vowing to take the matter to the Supreme Court.
The tribunal earlier in the day upheld president Muhammadu Buhari’s re-election, saying that Atiku Abubakar and his party, PDP, failed to discharge the burden of proof of the allegation of non-qualification Buhari to contest the February 23 election.
Delivering judgment, Justice Mohammed Garba, held that evidence before the court shows that Buhari obtained Cambridge West African Examination Council (WAEC).
Garba held that it has been established that 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.
”I am also of the firm view that the petitioners have failed to prove that the second respondent submitted false information which is fundamental in nature to aid his qualification to contest the election into the Office of the President as prescribed in section 35(1) of the Evidence Act, 2011.
“The onus rests squarely on the petitioners to prove their assertion that the 2nd respondent does not possess the educational qualification to contest the election or that he submitted false information which is fundamental in nature to aid his qualification.
”This I have mentioned that the petitioners failed to prove. The petitioners cannot, therefore, rely on any failure in the case.”
But spokesman for the PDP, Kola Ologbondiyan, said the judgment was provocative, barefaced subversion of justice and a direct assault on the integrity of the nation’s justice system.
He said that PDP was particularly shocked that the tribunal allegedly failed to point to justice despite, what he called, the flawless evidence laid before it.
The party said that Buhari was not only unqualified to contest the election but also did not score the majority of valid votes at the polls.
He said, “PDP finds it 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.”
But the party encouraged Nigerians to remain calm, “as our lawyers are upbeat in obtaining justice at the Supreme Court.”
Nigeria’s electoral umpire, Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), had announced President Buhari as winner with 15,191,847 votes with Atiku getting 11, 262,978.
But Atiku and the PDP claimed that results from a purported INEC server showed that he scored 18,356,732 as against Buhari’s 16,741,430 votes.
They also claimed that Buhari was not academically qualified to run for the election.