By Camillus Eboh
ABUJA (Reuters) -Nigeria’s main opposition candidates will appeal a tribunal ruling that affirmed Bola Tinubu’s victory in a disputed presidential election in February that they claim was marred by irregularities, their lawyers said.
Atiku Abubakar of the People’s Democratic Party and Labour Party’s Peter Obi, who came second and third respectively, had asked the court to cancel the election, alleging everything from vote 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 judgment that lasted more than 11 hours.
The ruling followed a pattern 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.
“I am therefore here to tell you that, though the judgment of the court yesterday is respected, it is a judgment that I refuse to accept. I refuse to accept the judgment because I believe that it is bereft of substantial justice,” Atiku said at press conference on X, formerly called Twitter.
“Consequently, I have asked my lawyers to activate my constitutionally guaranteed rights of appeal to the higher court, which, in the instance, is the Supreme Court.”
At a press briefing in his home state of Anambra on Thursday, Obi said while he respects the views of the tribunal, he disagrees with the judgement and will immediately appeal.
“It is my intention as a presidential candidate and the intention of the Labour Party to challenge this judgment by way of appeal immediately,” he said.
“Our legal team has already received our firm instruction to file an appeal against the decision. I shall not relent in the quest for justice, not necessarily for myself but indeed for our teeming supporters all over the country whose mandate to us at the polls was regrettably truncated,” Obi said.
An appeal at 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.
(Editing by Nick Zieminski, Elisha Bala-Gbogbo and Richard Chang)