The Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) has raised alarm over what it called the “undue delay” by the Presidential Election Petitions Tribunal to release the record of its judgment.
Two days after the Tribunal affirmed that President Muhammadu Buhari won the February 23 poll, the PDP has again rejected the judgment in a statement on Friday by its National Publicity Secretary, Mr Kola Ologbondiyan.
It stressed that the record of the judgment was needed to enable the party and its presidential candidate, Mr Atiku Abubakar, to promptly file an appeal against the ruling at the Supreme Court.
“Our party and millions of supporters across the country believe that the delay is a calculated attempt by some quarters to frustrate our appeal at the Supreme Court, where Nigerians have expressed confidence to get justice as well as restore the integrity of our judiciary, which has been eroded by the Tribunal,” the opposition party alleged.
It claimed further, “It is instructive to state that the Court of Appeal is aware that our party and candidate have mandatory 14 days to appeal to the Supreme Court, yet it is delaying in releasing a judgment that was read for nine hours and which it wants the public to believe it actually wrote.
“Our party fears that this development is lending credence to suspicion in the public space that the judgment is being tampered with and altered, in the name of correcting errors, knowing that there is no way the verdicts can stand the scrutiny of the Supreme Court.”
Tribunal Affirms Buhari’s Election
President Buhari defeated former Vice President Atiku in the keenly contested presidential election on February 23.
Dissatisfied with the outcomes of the poll, the PDP and its candidate took to the Tribunal, specifically asking the Tribunal to disqualify Buhari on the grounds that he did not possess the requisite academic qualification to contest for the office of President among other reasons.
After months of proceedings and presentation of witnesses and a series of evidence at the Tribunal, a five-man panel of judges led by Justice Mohammed Garba dismissed the petition by the PDP and Atiku in its entirety.
In a unanimous judgement delivered on Wednesday, the Tribunal held that the parties were to bear their respective cost.
Praise And Criticism
The judgement of the Tribunal sparked mixed reactions across the country as it was gladly received by members of the ruling party but strongly rejected by those of the opposition.
In separate reactions, President Buhari said the ruling was a victory for Nigerians who trooped out to elect him for a second term in office while the National Chairman of the All Progressives Congress (APC), Adams Oshiomhole, was confident that his party would win in any court.
Similarly, the Minister of Information and Culture, Mr Lai Mohammed, called on the PDP to tender an apology to Nigerians for distracting the Buhari administration with an election petition, rather than appealing the Tribunal’s judgement.
The opposition party, in a swift reaction, asked the minister and others to be cautious in celebrating the Tribunal’s judgment.
It insisted that the judgment was “a direct miscarriage of justice” which would not stand at the Supreme Court, adding that it has enough evidence against the President Buhari and the APC.
Condemning the delay in the release of the record of the judgement, the PDP said, “We also hope there is no link between the circumstances surrounding this delay and the boasts by the Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, speaking for the Buhari Presidency, as well as the National Chairman of the All Progressives Congress (APC), Adams Oshiomhole, that justice will not be served to the PDP and our Presidential candidate at the Supreme Court.”
It said it had always alerted Nigerians of the alleged efforts by the ruling party to manipulate processes.
The PDP, however, noted that it has found solace in the fact that the full video and audio recordings of the judgment were in the public space.
“We will not hesitate to expose any underhand act by anybody. The PDP, therefore, demands the immediate release of the record of judgment as delivered by the Tribunal without any form of alterations,” it said.