The Electoral Court rejected the opposition’s petition to invalidate President Bola Ahmed Tinubu’s election victory in February.
Nigeria’s presidential election tribunal ruled on Wednesday that Nigeria’s main opposition parties failed to prove allegations of electoral irregularities against the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) in disputed elections in February.
“This petition is hereby deemed meritless,” a judge said, while the court rejected the opposition’s challenge to Bola Tinubu’s victory in the presidential election.
The APC’s Tinubu was declared president with about a third of the votes ahead of his closest rivals, Atiku Abubakar of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and Peter Obi of the Labor Party. Abubakar and Obi had asked the court to invalidate the elections, alleging irregularities.
The judges rejected all allegations made by Labor candidate Obi, including fraud, charges against electoral authorities of violating the law and claims that Tinubu was ineligible to run.
The court was also reading its ruling on the opposition party’s second petition, which is also expected to be rejected.
No legal challenge to the results of the presidential election has been successful in Nigeria, which returned to democracy in 1999 after three decades of almost continuous military rule, and which has a history of electoral fraud.
Atiku and Obi can appeal to the country’s highest court to overturn the court’s ruling. Any appeal must be completed within 60 days of the date of the court ruling.
European observers said in June that the elections were marred by problems including operational failures and a lack of transparency, which reduced public confidence in the process.
However, the elections produced little sign of growing popular opposition, and Tinubu was accepted by the international community as Nigeria’s legitimate leader. While the court was issuing its ruling, Tinubu was in India preparing to participate in the G20 summit.
Although the court ruling was in Tinubu’s favour, it is unlikely to generate any special euphoria or momentum for the president after an election that saw a record low turnout of 29 percent.
In a country with a population of more than 200 million, of whom 87 million are registered to vote, Tinubu received only 8.79 million votes, the lowest number of votes received by any president since the return to democracy.
Tinubu inherited weak economic growth, high unemployment, the highest inflation rate in two decades, record debt, massive oil theft that hurt government revenues, and widespread insecurity under his predecessor, Muhammadu Buhari.
He launched a series of reforms, including eliminating popular and expensive gasoline subsidies and currency controls, but faced resistance from trade unions, which staged a two-day general strike this week and are planning another.
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