Senate President, Ahmad Lawan, has congratulated President Muhammadu Buhari and the All Progressives Congress (APC) on the president’s victory at the Presidential Election Petition Tribunal.
The tribunal on Wednesday dismissed the petition by the Peoples Democratic Party and its candidate, Atiku Abubakar, in its entirety.
Lawan, in a statement by his spokesperson, Ola Awoniyi, said that the judgement had put a judicial seal on the mandate freely given to the president by Nigerians in the February 23 presidential election.
Lawan urged the president to accept the affirmation of his election as a reminder of the confidence of Nigerians in his capacity to continue to lead the country to greatness.
The senate president said Nigerian people had great expectations from the “Next Level Agenda” of the president and further pledged full cooperation of the National Assembly in the pursuit of the best interest of the Nigerian people.
Lawan also commended the petitioners for using the judicial window prescribed by the constitution in seeking redress for their grievances and urged them to join hands with the government and the Nigerian people in the important task of nation-building.
APC National Leader, Asiwaju Bola Tinubu, also congratulated Buhari over his victory.
He said the tribunal verdict was a resounding judicial vindication of Buhari’s personal character and his electoral victory.
In a statement entitled “President Election Tribunal Verdict, Justice Served, Democracy Saved,” Tinubu said: “With the unanimous ruling of the Court of Appeal dismissing the Presidential Election Petition of PDP candidate Alhaji Abubakar Atiku today, the rule of law came to the defense of democracy by affirming the sovereign will of the people. Their will was expressed during the February 23 election when a vast, compelling majority of the electorate cast their ballots for President Buhari to serve a second term as Head of State and Commander-in- Chief of our beloved nation.
“Whatever partisan side one might take, all must agree that today was a bright day for the administration of justice. The Court of Appeal rendered a comprehensive judgement of extraordinary thoroughness, reason and breadth on the many issues presented in this important matter. The Court did so in the open air and before the television cameras that gave eyes to the entire nation to watch this fine moment for the Nigerian judiciary. The court did its job by following the law of the land wherever it might lead.
“Former Vice President Atiku and his legal team put forth some imaginative, if desperate, arguments as was their right. They fought vigorously for their positions and were allowed to do so without pressure and without fear. No one used the power of the state to intimidate them in court just as no one used the power of the state to intimidate them during the election. As the Court affirmed, the election was free and fair and the final result should stand.
“The PDP claimed that President Buhari was unqualified to run for office. To his credit, President Buhari took this assault against his character with customary grace. The court thoroughly vindicated him. Based on his education and the experiences gained through his fine career, the Court determined the evidence presented by Atiku showed that the President was “eminently qualified” and had done nothing untoward in his election filings with INEC.“Atiku also placed unfounded reliance on the assertion of the use of card readers to send election results to an imaginary server. The court found that the operative law did not provide for the alleged electronic transmission of polling booth results. Atiku could not present evidence that such transmissions ever took place. In fact, such transmissions were technologically unfeasible. Card readers were not meant for this task and the purported mystery server was but a phantom in the PDP’s mind.
“To their credit, Atiku’s team argued and pressed their case energetically; but in the end their claims were based on things that existed only in their minds. They were arguing what they wanted to have happened not what actually took place. The Court, on the other hand, can only deal with facts at hand not the imaginings of the mind.
“Most importantly, the Court found that the election was properly conducted and that President Buhari won by the wide margin counted and recorded by INEC. Atiku was given the chance to prove his case. In the end, he did not produce the requisite evidence. This failure was not from lack of trying; the failure was because such evidence simply does not exist. President Buhari won the election openly and honestly.
“I congratulate President Buhari for this resounding judicial vindication of his personal character and of his electoral victory. I know Mr. President as a magnanimous person who will reach out his hand in friendship to Atiku in the spirit of reconciliation, national tranquility and progress. We may disagree and argue as brothers but never as enemies who cannot resolve whatever difference that has come between us.
“The next step lies with Atiku. He can decide to continue with these claims or he can take the more prudent approach by accepting the express will of the people and placing his ample talents in the service of the nation in his private capacity.
Lagos State Governor, Mr. Babajide Sanwo-Olu, also congratulated Buhari.
In a statement by his Chief Press Secretary, Mr. Gboyega Akosile, Sanwo-Olu described the victory as a final lap of a relay race where the real victor is evidently seen at the finishing line.
Sanwo-Olu said: ”Although millions of Nigerians were not in doubt as regards the mandate freely given to President Buhari to steer the ship of the country for another term of four years, the opposition politicians were also not wrong to have approached the court to seek redress, noting that they were free to test the country’s judicial system.
”With this pronouncement, it is clear to everyone that contrary to misinformation being spread against our party during the electioneering by the opposition, the All Progressives Congress under President Muhammadu Buhari performed to the satisfaction of Nigerians in his first term in office.”
Sanwo-Olu, therefore, enjoined Nigerians across party divide to team up with the president to deliver the real dividends of democracy to the people.
He said the next level campaign of the president is not only exciting but also a clear indication of the new frontier the country will reach in the next four years and beyond.
”I, therefore, congratulate the President and Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, the leadership and members of our great party, the All Progressives Congress and all Nigerians at home and in the diaspora on this very landmark judicial victory,” Sanwo-Olu said.
Also, Governor Nyesom Wike of Rivers State congratulated Buhari on the validation of his re-election by the Presidential Election Petition Tribunal.
Wike’s congratulatory message was conveyed in a statement by Mr Simeon Nwakaudu, his Special Assistant on Electronic Media.
The governor urged Buhari to use his victory to work for all Nigerians, irrespective of their political leanings
Wike also called on the president to work toward the unity of the country.
A National Leader of Afenifere, Senator Ayo Fasanmi, also congratulated Buhari.
Chief Abiodun Akin-Fasae, Afenifere Publicity Secretary in Ekiti State, who spoke on behalf of Fasanmi, said on Wednesday that the president’s victory was a good development for Nigerians and democracy.
Fasanmi paid tributes to the judiciary ” for painstakingly going through the details of the petition without bothering whose ox was gored.”
He advised all stakeholders to come together and work for the progress of the country, saying ” there is opportunity for everyone at all times to contribute to its development.”
In his own reaction, the Chairman of the Buhari Campaign Organisation in the 2019 general elections, Dr Olusegun Osinkolu, urged Alhaji Atiku Abubakar to accept the judgement in good faith and not heighten tension in the country.
Former Deputy Speaker of Ekiti House of Assembly, Chief Taiwo Olatubosun, hailed the judgement, saying the outcome would enable the president serve the nation more than ever before.
Also commenting, the Senator representing Ekiti Central Senatorial District, Opeyemi Bamidele, commended the judiciary over the judgment, stressing that it would end all distractions and allow the president to focus on governance.
Bamidele, the Chairman, Senate Committee on Judiciary, said the comprehensive nature of the judgment had shown that there was hope in the nation’s judiciary.
A lawyer, Mr Foluso Olawale, however, disagreed with an aspect of the judgement which declared Buhari as not only qualified but ” eminently” qualified academically to contest the election.
He also objected to the pronouncement of the tribunal to the effect that there was no provision for electronic transmission of results in the Electoral Act and electoral guidelines.