(Bloomberg) -- A Nigerian court upheld Bola Tinubu’s victory in the February presidential election in Africa’s most populous nation.
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In a unanimous decision, the Presidential Election Petition Tribunal on Wednesday dismissed an application from three political parties to overturn the declaration of Tinubu as the winner of the hotly contested vote. The five judges of the court, led by Haruna Tsammani, agreed with Tinubu’s lawyers that the petitioners’ case lacked merit.
Tinubu said the judgment had renewed and energized his efforts to build a unified, peaceful and prosperous nation. The ruling “reflects the continuing maturation of Nigeria’s legal system, and the advancement of Africa’s largest democracy at a time when our democratic system of government is under test in other parts of the continent,” he said in an emailed statement.
The affirmation of Tinubu’s win will strengthen his capacity to push through the difficult reforms he has initiated since he was sworn into office on May 29. The tribunal’s ruling can, however, be appealed in the Supreme Court.
Official results showed that Tinubu, the ruling All Progressives Congress’ candidate, won 35.2% support in the election, and runner-up Atiku Abubakar of the main opposition Peoples Democratic Party 28%.
Local and international observers questioned the credibility of the contest. The European Union mission said in a June report that the way the vote was conducted undermined public trust in democracy as the electoral commission “did not ensure a well-run, transparent and inclusive democratic process.”
The PDP, Peter Obi’s Labor Party and the Allied Peoples Movement challenged the outcome of the elections, alleging that they were rigged. They also questioned Tinubu’s eligibility to stand, because he once forfeited money that was allegedly linked to the illegal drug trade to the US government. Tinubu’s lawyers have said he was never charged over the matter and the judges found the petitioners had failed to present evidence that the president was ever detained or convicted.
Abubakar said on Thursday that he has asked his lawyers to appeal the judgment because it failed to deliver justice.. “Though the judgment of the court yesterday is respected, it is a judgment I refuse to accept,”he said.
Nigerian dollar bonds maturing in 2025 were little changed on Thursday. Nigerian stocks and bonds have rallied since Tinubu assumed the presidency and announced an end to costly gasoline subsidies, suspended the controversial head of the central bank and allowed the dollar to trade more freely against the local currency.
Tinubu, who has always insisted that he was fairly elected, traveled to India this week to attend the G20 summit and participate in an India-Nigeria business summit. Deals worth about $14 billion were signed at the latter event, the presidency said in an emailed statement.
The outcome of presidential elections in Nigeria have never been overturned in Nigeria since the country returned to democratic rule in 1999.
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--With assistance from Monique Vanek.
(Updates with comments from Atiku Abubakar in paragraph eight)
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