Nigeria’s Supreme Court has upheld the election of President Bola Ahmed Tinubu, ending months of legal battles over the presidential race.
The seven-member court ruled on Thursday against the opposition’s challenges of fraud and electoral law breaches during the election.
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“There is no merit in this appeal, and it is hereby dismissed,” said Supreme Court judge John Okoro.
The court’s decision, which is final, gives Tinubu a firm mandate to lead.
Tinubu, a 71-year-old former governor of the capital, Lagos, was elected president in February in the closest race in Nigeria’s modern history.
He won 37 percent of the vote, narrowly topping Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) candidate Atiku Abubakar and the Labour Party’s Peter Obi.
Abubakar and Obi received 29 percent and 25 percent of the vote respectively.
The two opposition candidates filed legal challenges to the result, arguing that Nigeria’s election commission had failed to digitally transmit results from polling stations as promised.
The election commission acknowledged “glitches” in the voting system, but denied that the election’s integrity had been compromised.
The opposition also contended that since Tinubu won less than 25 percent of the vote in the federal capital, Abuja, he was under the legal threshold to be declared victory.
The courts, however, disagreed with this interpretation, ruling that Tinubu had indeed met the required threshold of winning 25 percent of the vote in two-thirds of all 36 states and Abuja combined.
Most Nigerian elections have sparked legal disputes since the country established democratic rule in 1999. However, Nigeria’s Supreme Court has never upended a presidential result.
Who is Tinubu?
Tinubu, a Muslim born in Nigeria’s Yoruba-speaking southwest, belongs to Nigeria’s ruling All Progressives Congress party.
Trained as an accountant in the US, he went on to become a political activist in Nigeria, before becoming a senator and later governor of Lagos State, which he led from 1999 to 2007.
Since taking presidential office in May, Tinubu has introduced key economic reforms that he says will lure investors and make Nigeria a regional economic powerhouse.
They include axing an expensive fuel subsidy and introducing a market-oriented exchange rate.
Tinubu will face numerous other challenges during his four-year term.
His government is currently grappling with significant security threats, from an armed rebellion in the northeast, to kidnapping gangs that have snatched thousands for ransom in a year.
It is also struggling to reign in high inflation, a flailing currency, and crude oil theft.
In July, Tinubu was also selected to chair the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), putting him at the helm of the regional bloc at a time of deepening instability, including from a string of military coups since 2020.