A Nigerian court ruling on Thursday cemented Nigerian President Bola Ahmed Tinubu’s election victory, ending a hotly contested and drawn-out election trial that put Africa’s largest democracy on the threshold of a constitutional crisis.
Tinubu had been declared winner of February’s vote by the country’s Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), despite international observers saying the process was marred by irregularities.
Opposition candidates, led by Atiku Abubakar of the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) who was runner-up in the election, challenged the results on the grounds of electoral malpractice and ineligibility. In September, the Presidential Elections Petitions Tribunal (PEPT) dismissed the opposition’s case, prompting Abubakar’s team to immediately file an appeal at Nigeria’s apex court, the final recourse on electoral issues.
In Thursday’s ruling, judges of the Supreme Court shut down that appeal and upheld the lower court’s decision. Presiding judge John Okoro said the court could not accept new evidence that Abubakar’s team had doggedly obtained in a widely followed deposition of a Chicago State University official in a US court earlier this month.
The evidence, analysts said, cast doubts on Tinubu’s educational qualifications and Abubakar’s lawyers had sought to use it as proof that the president presented a forged certificate to INEC, a crime under Nigerian law if established.
But, experts said, it was a card pulled too late.