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Appeals court rejects 2 out of 3 petitions against Nigerian president’s disputed election victory

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An appeals court in Nigeria rejected two out of the three petitions Wednesday challenging the legitimacy of President Bola Tinubu’s victory in the February election, with the last petition still under deliberation in a case that has put Africa’s most populous country on edge.

Three opposing parties challenged the election results which they said was illegally announced and argued that Tinubu was not qualified to run for president because he was a citizen of Guinea and allegedly did not have the required academic credentials. The opposition has hinted at possible protests if the court rules in his favor.

In the Court of Appeal in the Nigerian capital, Abuja, a five-member justice panel ruled that the third-place finisher Peter Obi and his Labour Party were not able to prove his claims that the Nigerian election commission did not follow due process in announcing the results of the vote nor that the voting was marred by irregularities and that he — not Tinubu — won the election with a majority of votes.

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The court also rejected witness statements called by Obi, saying they were “incompetent” and ruled that he failed to prove his claim that Tinubu was once indicted on drug charges in the United States, thereby disqualifying him from running for president.

“It is clearly evident that the petitioners have failed to discharge the burden of proof placed on them by law,” said Haruna Tsammani, head of the panel. “They have not been able to leave any cogent, credible and acceptable evidence.”

It also rejected a petition by the Allied Peoples Movement which sought to nullify Tinubu’s victory on the ground that his running mate — Vice President Kashim Shettima— was not legally nominated to contest. It said Shettima met the minimum constitutional provisions allowing him to run.

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“Where the constitution has qualified a candidate to contest an election, no other law except the constitution can disqualify him,” Tsammani said.

Tinubu, who is currently attending the G20 summit in India, has denied all the allegations.

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