Nigeria’s Supreme Court validated President Bola Ahmed Tinubu’s election victory on Thursday, dismissing the opposition’s final appeal against his mandate five months after he came to office.
Most Nigerian elections have ended up in legal battles since Africa’s most populous nation emerged from military rule in 1999, but the Supreme Court has never overturned a presidential election.
A former Lagos governor, Tinubu w on 37 percent of the vote in February, beating Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) candidate Atiku Abubakar and Labour Party’s Peter Obi, in one of the tightest votes in Nigeria’s modern history.
A seven-judge Supreme Court panel ruled as without merit the opposition appeals over claims of fraud, electoral law violations and Tinubu’s ineligibility to run for president.
“Having resolved all the issues against the appellant, it is my view that there is no merit in this appeal and it is hereby dismissed,” Justice John Inyang Okoro said of the PDP’s appeal in a ruling broadcast live on television.
The panel also rejected Labour’s motion against Tinubu.
Tinubu, who took office in May vowing an agenda of “Renewed Hope” and quickly introduced economic reforms, welcomed the decision and urged Nigerians to put aside their differences.
“The victory of today has further energised and strengthened my commitment to continue to serve all Nigerians of all political persuasions, tribes, and faiths,” he said in a statement.
“We are all members of one household, and this moment demands that we continue to work and build our country together.”
Tinubu’s administration has ended a fuel subsidy and floated the naira currency in reforms the government says will help grow Africa’s largest economy and attract more foreign investment. But in the short-term, Nigerians are struggling with a tripling of fuel prices and higher food costs.
An election appeals court last month already rejected the two main opposition party petitions, including allegations of fraud, violations by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) and claims Tinubu did not meet the constitutional requirements.
Along with its original petition, Atiku’s legal team had also sought to introduce new evidence to the Supreme Court it claims show that Tinubu submitted a forged certificate from the Chicago State University as a qualification to the election commission when he applied to run for president.
Aside from economic reforms, Tinubu’s government is also trying to tackle huge security challenges, from a long-running jihadist insurgency in the northeast to kidnap gangs and intercommunal clashes in other parts of the country.