Nigerian opposition to appeal tribunal’s presidential vote ruling

The election tribunal had dismissed their petitions and upheld the victory of President Tinubu in the February polling.

Former Nigeria Vice President Atiku Abubakar addresses the People's Democratic Party delegates in Abuja, Nigeria May 28, 2022.
Former Nigerian Vice President Atiku Abubakar is one of two opposition presidential candidates challenging February's election results [Afolabi Sotunde/Reuters]

Nigeria’s main opposition candidates will appeal a tribunal ruling that affirmed Bola Tinubu’s victory in a disputed presidential election in February, which they insist was marred by irregularities, their lawyers say.

Atiku Abubakar of the People’s Democratic Party and the Labour Party’s Peter Obi, who came second and third respectively, had asked the court to cancel the election, alleging everything from voting fraud to failure by the electoral agency to post results electronically. They wanted Tinubu to be disqualified.

But the Presidential Election Petition Court on Wednesday dismissed their petitions point by point in a judgement that lasted more than 11 hours.

The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) introduced biometric technology and a central database for uploading results in real-time to ensure transparency.

INEC acknowledged “glitches” but dismissed allegations that the vote was not free and fair. Critics said the technical problems and delays had allowed opportunities for vote manipulation.

The ruling followed a pattern seen in previous election years in Africa’s most populous country, where no legal challenge to the outcome of a presidential election has succeeded since Nigeria returned to democracy in 1999.

Obi’s lawyer Livy Uzoukwu told reporters his team would read the full judgement and make an appeal to the Supreme Court.

“We have the firm instruction of our client to challenge the judgement on appeal. Once we have it [the judgement], we will swing into action,” he said.

Atiku’s lead counsel, Chris Uche, said: “We have not received justice” and they would also file an appeal, adding “the struggle continues”.

An appeal to the Supreme Court should be filed within 14 days from the date of the tribunal ruling. The apex court then has 60 days to hear the case and make its ruling.

Source: Al Jazeera and news agencies