Chairperson of Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) and President of Nigeria Bola Ahmed Tinubu reacts after addressing ECOWAS Head of States and Government extraordinary session in Abuja, on August 10, 2023.

Chairperson of Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) and President of Nigeria Bola Ahmed Tinubu reacts after addressing ECOWAS Head of States and Government extraordinary session in Abuja, on August 10, 2023.

Photo by KOLA SULAIMON/AFP via Getty Images.

Nigeria's Presidential Election Tribunal Upholds Bola Tinubu's Victory

Nigeria's presidential election tribunal upholds Bola Tinubu's victory after the opposition challenge was dismissed.

Nigeria's presidential election tribunal delivered its verdict on Wednesday, rejecting an opposition challenge to Bola Tinubu's victory in February's contentious vote. This outcome aligns with a historical trend in Africa's most populous nation, where no legal challenge to a presidential election result has ever succeeded.

Since Nigeria's return to democracy in 1999, following three decades of nearly uninterrupted military rule marred by electoral fraud, presidential election results have remained unassailable. The tribunal's ruling on Wednesday further underscores this prevailing trend.

The tribunal's decision came after the main opposition parties failed to substantiate their claims of electoral malpractice against the All Progressives Congress (APC), which secured victory in February's disputed elections.

A judge on the tribunal declared, "This petition is hereby declared unmeritorious," as the challenge to Bola Tinubu's presidential win was dismissed.

Bola Tinubu, representing the APC, had been declared the president with approximately one-third of the votes, ahead of his closest rivals, Atiku Abubakar of the People's Democratic Party (PDP) and Peter Obi of the Labour Party. Abubakar and Obi had petitioned the court to invalidate the election, alleging various irregularities.

The tribunal rejected all claims made by Labour Party candidate Peter Obi, including allegations of fraud, accusations that electoral authorities had violated the law, and claims that Tinubu was ineligible to run for president.

Three opposing parties had challenged the election results, contending that they were improperly announced and arguing that Tinubu was not qualified to run for president due to allegations that he was a citizen of Guinea and lacked the required academic credentials. The opposition had hinted at potential protests if the court ruled in Tinubu's favor.

In the Abuja Court of Appeal, a five-member justice panel ruled that Peter Obi and the Labour Party, who finished in third place, failed to prove their claims that the Nigerian election commission had not followed due process in announcing the results and that the voting had been marred by irregularities. The court upheld that Tinubu, not Obi, had won the election with a majority of votes.

Furthermore, the court rejected witness statements presented by Obi, deeming them "incompetent," and ruled that he had failed to prove his claim that Tinubu had been indicted on drug charges in the United States, which would disqualify him from running for president.

Head of the panel, Haruna Tsammani, stated, "It is clearly evident that the petitioners have failed to discharge the burden of proof placed on them by law. They have not been able to provide any cogent, credible, and acceptable evidence."

Additionally, a petition by the Allied Peoples Movement seeking to nullify Tinubu's victory on the grounds that his running mate, Vice President Kashim Shettima, was not legally nominated to contest was also rejected. The court determined that Shettima met the minimum constitutional provisions to run.

Bola Tinubu, currently attending the G20 summit in India, has consistently denied all allegations against him.

Amid heightened security in Abuja, various support groups gathered near the court premises, chanting songs in solidarity with their political parties and urging the judiciary to "do the right thing."

One protester, James Mike, emphasized that they stood by the court, recognizing that "the last hope of the common man depends on" its decisions.

The presidential election tribunal possesses the authority to uphold Tinubu's election victory, declare another candidate as the winner, annul the vote, or order a new election. Regardless of the outcome, any decision made by the tribunal can be appealed to Nigeria's Supreme Court within a 60-day window.