President Muhammadu Buhari has asked Atiku Abubakar, presidential candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), to accept his loss in the 2019 election.
Atiku had challenged the victory of Buhari in the election but lost at the tribunal and the supreme court. Earlier on Wednesday, the apex court had dismissed Atiku’s appeal against Buhari’s victory at the tribunal.
Reacting in a statement Garba Shehu, his spokesman, issued on his behalf, Buhari said the dispute over the election had been laid to rest.
“President Muhammadu Buhari today welcomes the ruling of the Supreme Court of Nigeria, dismissing the case brought before them by a former vice-president, Atiku Abubakar and his party, the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, and again thanks the people of Nigeria for the mandate they gave to him to run the affairs of the country for another four years,” the statement read.
“The Government – and people of Nigeria – have been aware that the result of the February 23, 2019, presidential election has been settled now for some eight months.
‘‘President Buhari was re-elected by an absolute majority of 55.6 per cent of the national vote, with Nigerians casting nearly 4 million more votes for President Buhari than his nearest challenger – representing a margin close to 15 per cent of the total vote.
“The former Vice President and his political party exercised their rights, under the Nigerian Constitution and electoral laws, to petition the courts and dispute this result.
‘‘They did so first at the Presidential Election Petition Tribunal which ruled in September 2019 against them. Now – following his appeal to the Supreme Court and its ruling to dismiss their case for “lacking merit” – this matter is now closed.
“The President and Government of Nigeria do wish to extend our gratitude to former vice-president and his party for undertaking their campaign through protestations to the courts.
‘‘In this regard they have conducted themselves in line with the laws of the country they sought to lead.
“Now, following this final legal bid before the highest court, it is time the country is afforded the right to move on – in the interest of all Nigerians – regardless of how they voted… The opposition, as much as the government, must now move on – and without the need for further distractions.”
The president said he would now focus solely on addressing the issues that concern the country. He also challenged the PDP to take up its role of keeping his administration in check.
“From building economic empowerment and opportunities for the nearly 200 million Nigerians, 60 per cent of whom are youths bubbling with energy, to defeating the twin ills of terrorism and corruption, there is much work to do,” he said.
“So too must the opposition be afforded the right to focus directly on their vital role of holding the administration to account for its decisions.
‘‘The governance of a democracy only functions as it should when those checks on the executive are in place – and utilized.” Atiku has since rejected the verdict of the apex court, alleging that the judiciary has been sabotaged.