October 30, 2019 / 1:09 PM / 17 days ago

Nigerian supreme court dismisses appeal against Buhari election win

Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari speaks during a news conference after a meeting with his South African counterpart Cyril Ramaphosa, in Pretoria, South Africa, October 3, 2019. REUTERS/Siphiwe Sibeko

ABUJA (Reuters) - Nigeria’s Supreme Court on Wednesday dismissed an appeal by the main opposition candidate to overturn the result of February’s presidential election in which Muhammadu Buhari was returned to office.

Atiku Abubakar lodged his initial complaint with the election tribunal, which ruled against him last month. Tuesday’s decision is likely to end the former vice president’s ambition to govern Africa’s most populous country.

The Supreme Court unanimously threw out Atiku’s appeal as “lacking merit”, saying in a short statement it would issue a more detailed reasoning for its decision later.

Atiku said Nigeria’s judiciary had been “sabotaged and undermined,” but also that his effort to fight the result in court had ended. “I must accept that the judicial route I chose to take, as a democrat, has come to a conclusion,” Abubakar said in a statement. “Whether justice was done, is left to the Nigerian people to decide.”

Buhari thanked Atiku for using the courts to address the issue.

“Now, following this final legal bid before the highest court, it is time the country is afforded the right to move on – in the interest of all Nigerians – regardless of how they voted,” Buhari said in a statement.

Buhari took 56% of the vote against 41% for Atiku, according to electoral commission data. A Buhari victory had been widely anticipated.

Every election result has been contested since Nigeria returned to democracy in 1999, with the exception of the 2015 vote in which Goodluck Jonathan conceded defeat to Buhari.

Reporting by Camillus Eboh; Additional reporting by Felix Onuah in Abuja; Writing by John Stonestreet, Paul Carsten and Libby George; Editing by Mark Heinrich

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