Seventeen days after it delivered its verdict on the appeal filed by the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, and its Presidential candidate, Alhaji Atiku Abubakar, in the February 23 election, the Supreme Court on Friday explained why it dismissed the appeal.
The court said that all allegations raised by the PDP and its candidate in the election challenging Buhari’s victory were unproven.
Abubakar, also a former vice-president who contested the election against Buhari, claimed he won the election.
Justice Inyang Okoro said this while giving reasons why the apex court on October 30 dismissed the appellants’ appeal that challenged the judgment of the presidential tribunal.
The appellants had claimed that the tribunal erred in addressing all the issues raised in petition.
The issues brought before the tribunal bordered on the qualification, electoral malpractice, and transmission of election results electronically, among others.
In the circumstance, the appellants prayed the tribunal to rule all the issues in their favour and return Atiku as winner of the election.
However, Okoro, who provided the definitive reasons by the seven-man panel of justices, led by the Chief Justice of Nigeria, Justice Tanko Muhammad, also held that: “the appeal lacked any scintilla of merit and therefore needed to be dismissed.”
On allegations on the president’s qualification, Okoro said Buhari was eminently qualified to contest the election as sufficient evidence was adduced to confirm both his educational and candidature status that were accepted by INEC.
Okoro, therefore, upheld the decision of the tribunal on the issues around the president’s qualification and possession of relevant certificates was legendary.
The judge also said that Buhari was not liable of any irregularities and corrupt practices before, during and after the election as claimed by the appellants.
He also said the president was not under any obligations to attach his credentials to his INEC nomination form as contested by the appellants, adding that such demand was not provided for by the Constitution.
On the allegation of the use of server by INEC in transmitting results of the election to a central point, Okoro said that PDP and Atiku failed woefully by not providing evidence to substantiate such an allegation.
“They were wrong to have relied on the so called results obtained from a website not maintained by the electoral umpire, adding that the claim by Atiku that he won the election based on information from such a clandestine source was questionable.
“I agree entirely with the court below that the appellants failed to prove that INEC has the server from which they got their figures.
“As a result, all the results, calculations and analysis based on the results from such a source that did not belong to INEC are of no moment,’’ the judge said.
On allegations of over voting, violence and malpractices, Okoro held that the failure of the appellants to call credible witnesses was fatal to their case, adding that five witnesses invited to prove such allegations was unimaginable.
According to the judge, most of the issues raised by the appellants were based on to prove hearsay evidence, adding that the apex court could not grant prayers that were not proven beyond reasonable doubt.
“We are of the conviction that the lower court did a good job based on the evidence brought before it by the appellants. We also unanimously dismissed the appeal as all five issues remained unproven,’’ the judge said.