Abuja — THE Congress for Progressive Change (CPC) Presidential candidate, Gen Muhammadu Buhari (rtd), yesterday said the Supreme Court's judgment which affirmed President Goodluck Jonathan's victory in the 2011 presidential polls has 'little judicial content.'
Seven justices of the Supreme Court yesterday unanimously held that the April 16, 2011 polls which returned Jonathan to power substantially complied with Nigeria's Electoral Act.
Although the Chief Justice of Nigeria (CJN), Dahiru Musdapher, was absent in court, Justice Olufunlola Oyelola Adekeye read the judgement which affirmed victory for President Jonathan of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) while five other justices concurred.
Buhari, whose petitions suffered similar fate in 2003 and 2007, accused the court of glossing over the 'gross irregularities' that attended the polls, and regretted that although the appointment of Professor Attahiru Jega as Chairman of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) was greeted with high hope, he failed to deliver credible elections.
The former Head of State said as a consequence of the collaboration among INEC, police and security services over the last 10 years, the PDP-led government has pushed Nigeria into an 'emergency situation' where 'law and order can break down at any time.'
The personally signed statement reads, in part: 'As in 2003 and 2007, the Supreme Court this morning rejected CPC's appeal against the Lower Court verdict that the rigged Presidential election of April 16, 2011 was properly conducted.
All who witnessed the conduct of the 2011 elections would know that this decision of the Supreme Court is politically motivated and has little judicial content.
'What happened in this year's 2011 elections eclipsed all the other elections in the depth and scope of forgery and rigging.
Initially there were high hopes that after 2003 and 2007, a semblance of electoral propriety would be witnessed.
The new chairman of INEC, Professor Jega, was touted as competent and a man of integrity.
'He has proved neither. After asking for - and getting - close to N100 billion for the election including biometric data with all ten finger prints to conduct a thorough electoral exercise, he botched it.
'When our Party, CPC, demanded forensic material, finger printed ballot papers to prove colossal and widespread multiple voting throughout the country, rendering the election invalid in at least 25 out of the 36 states of the federation, INEC refused to provide them in Court, citing national security.'
Buhari lamented that, 'a country on the brink of developing into the major continental power in 1999 is now a fractured society, corruption everywhere, violence everywhere, a sense of helplessness and hopelessness nearly everywhere.
'While the country is sliding into this chaotic state, PDP governments at the centre and in the states are engaged in massive and mindless plunder of the country's resources in total disregard of the suffering masses.
Consequently, the former head of state said to avert the looming chaos in the New Year, immediate steps should be taken to reduce the cost of governance in the three tiers of government, especially in the areas of security votes, excessive foreign travels and emoluments of public officers.
Expectedly, President Jonathan has lauded the unanimous confirmation of his victory by the Supreme Court in the presidential elections.
A press statement by the presidential spokesman, Dr. Rueben Abati, said the ruling by seven justices of the court has put a final seal of approval on the president's victory which was already acknowledged by the vast majority of ordinary Nigerians, political parties and the international community.
'He also commended the presidential candidate of the Congress for Progressive Change (CPC), General Muhammadu Buhari for availing himself of the country's legal and judicial system in expressing his reservations about the conduct of the elections,' the statement said.
It added that now that the process has run its full course, President Jonathan hopes that General Buhari and his party will accept the ruling 'of the esteemed Judges of the Supreme Court in good faith and join hands with him and other well-meaning Nigerians to build a united, stronger and prosperous nation that present and future generations of Nigerians can be proud of.'
According to Abati, the president expects that General Buhari would continue to contribute positively to national development and also mobilise his supporters across the country to join in the process of national reconciliation and national renaissance.
He assures the nation that the Federal Government, under his leadership, will remain fully focused on its objectives and continue to work assiduously to implement its agenda for national transformation in fulfillment of his promise of better living conditions for all Nigerians.
The Senate President, David Mark, has also described yesterday's ruling as a true reflection of the wishes expressed by the majority of Nigerians at the polls.
Senator Mark, in a congratulatory message to the president and Vice President Namadi Sambo and the PDP, said the victory should be deployed for beneficial service to Nigerians.
In the message signed by his Special Adviser, Media and Publicity, Kola Ologbondiyan, the president of the senate specifically enjoined President Jonathan to use the judicial victory as a spring of consolidation for the transformation agenda.
He, however, advised that Nigerians must build the culture of accepting election results, particularly when they cannot genuinely win at the polls.
According to Mark, 'it is only here that people go to the polls with a mindset that they must win. We must build the culture of accepting the final decision of the electorate.' He urged the loser to join hands with the president to work for the good of all Nigerians.
The PDP has also joined in the victory song, congratulating President Jonathan over the unanimous verdict which confirmed his election.
Acting National chairman of the PDP, Alhaji Abubakar Kawu Baraje, in a statement signed by the party's National Publicity Secretary, Prof. Rufai Ahmed Alkali, yesterday in Abuja, said the verdict has vindicated the position of most Nigerians on the sanctity of the April general elections.
Alhaji Baraje described the Supreme Court ruling as the historic endorsement and validation of President Jonathan's election by the highest court in the land, adding that the judgement brings to a close a tortuous process of litigation that was unnecessary in the first place.