Two months after the 2023 presidential election, the candidates of the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, Alhaji Atiku Abubakar and his Labour Party, LP, counterpart, Peter Obi are insisting they won the polls.
They are not left alone in the controversy, as the ruling All Progressives Congress, APC, is also dishing out media statements with counterclaims on the outcome of the polls.
The developments are viewed as troubling considering that the cases are subjects of litigation.
President-elect, Bola Tinubu is set to be inaugurated as Nigeria’s new leader this May 29.
But his two major challengers, Atiku and Obi are not giving up on their claims that they, not Tinubu, won the election.
A few days ago, President Muhammadu Buhari said the opposition lost the election owing to overconfidence.
He was quoted as saying: “They were already telling their foreign backers that they would defeat the APC. Our Party blended confidence with caution, we worked hard and won. Now, their overconfidence is creating more problems for the opposition than anyone else. They are finding it hard to convince those who supported them from outside why they are unable to beat us.
“A combination of over confidence, complacency and bad tactical moves made them lose, plain and clear. This has created more problems in their camp. Why did they fail to remove us?”
Also, Minister of Information and Culture, Lai Mohammed, had charged the opposition to stop their endless groping over the last election because they lost woefully.
But the PDP has fired back, maintaining that Atiku won the election.
National Publicity Secretary of the opposition party, Debo Ologunagba, said results from polling units showed that Atiku won the presidential election, but the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, announced Tinubu as winner.
He said, “The PDP insists that its candidate, Atiku clearly won the February 25, 2023 Presidential election, as shown from the actual votes cast at the Polling Units across the country.
“The PDP describes the subjudice claims by the Minister of Information and Culture, Lai Mohammed, that the opposition lost the election, as yet another in the series of attempts by the All Progressives Congress (APC)-led Federal Executive to bully and blackmail the Presidential Election Petition Tribunal.
“Nigerians are aware that by the authentic results obtained from the Polling Units, Atiku Abubakar and not the APC candidate met all the conditions stipulated for the winning of the Presidential election.”
Peter Obi of the Labour Party also used the opportunity of a stakeholders’ meeting of the party to re-echo his stand that he was the winner of the election.
Obi, who came third in the election, said he would use every available legal means to recover his alleged stolen mandate.
Obi wrote after the Awka meeting: “Earlier, I interacted with the Anambra State Labour Party Stakeholders in Awka. The meeting was quite animated and constructive. Part of our discussions centred on the way forward for the party.
“I reassured them of my readiness to go all the way, explore every available legal option to ensure that we get our mandate back. I appreciated all their support so far, as I assured them of mine. PO.”
With processes exchanged by all the parties, the Presidential Election Petition Tribunal is expected to resume hearing of all the cases filed by the different political parties.
Five political parties are before the Tribunal seeking to invalidate Tinubu’s victory.
They include the PDP, the LP, the Allied People’s Movement, the Action Alliance and the Action People’s Party.
In the results declared by the INEC, Tinubu polled 8,794,726 votes ahead of PDP’s Atiku who got 6,984,520 votes, while Peter Obi of the LP came third with 6,101,533 votes. Rabiu Kwankwaso of the New Nigeria Peoples Party (NNPP) finished fourth with 1,496,687 votes.
A legal luminary, Barr Olu Omotayo said the action of the politicians after the presidential election is alien.
The lawyer saidthat he had expected the Judiciary as well as the Nigerian Bar Association to take decisive action.
“What is happening now is very strange; we never saw it before, but this particular year is very different.
“People who have their matters pending before the court are still going to the press saying one thing or the other, to likely prejudice the outcome.
“When a matter is before the court, you don’t comment on it, so that you give the judges some free hand; you don’t put them under some form of fear.
“It is unfortunate and because of the weak institution, the court is not as active as in those days; if not, the office of the CJN would have been able to say something about it and warned them.
“The office of the CJN would have directed the political parties to stop all those things since their matter is in court. But the courts are not saying anything. The CJN who is supposed to be the protector of the courts is not taking action on this.
“Even the bar also, the Nigerian Bar Association, you see lawyers also who know how things are supposed to be, you see them making inflammatory statements, even making press statements on what is pending before the tribunal, very senior lawyers; so the lawyers have to be blamed; they are not advising their clients that this matter is pending.
“It is unfortunate that Senior Advocates, very senior lawyers are also making statements in a pending matter before the tribunal and it should stop,” Omotayo counselled.