…urges Election Tribunal to assert Judiciary’s independence, render justice, rescue Nigeria’s democracy
By Chuks Eke
A good governance group, Govindex Leadership, Empowerment and Development Foundation, has accused President Muhammadu Buhari of contempt by attempting to teleguide and intimidate the Judiciary with regard to the on-going litigation over the controversial February 25 Presidential election.
Govindex in a statement issued yesterday also slammed the President for endorsing the results of the disputed election, noting that “his unfortunate comments on the ill-fated election are subjudice and smack of a desperate attempt to legitimise illegitimacy so as to intimidate the Judiciary into rubber-stamping a Presidential mandate stolen by his ruling All Progressives Congress, APC”.
The group in the statement signed by Justice C. Aninworie, of Govindex Legal Directorate specifically referred to Buhari’s endorsement of the election result while speaking at the recent Fifth United Nations Conference on Least Developed Countries in Doha, Qatar.
According to Govindex, “Following his penchant for disobeying court orders, and dictating court orders by his infamous body-language, President Mohammadu Buhari has again desecrated the sanctity of the Nigerian Nation by comments ascribed to him by presidential spokesman, Garba Shehu. Buhari, who was said to have been attending the Fifth United Nations Conference on Least Developed Countries, a conference his abysmal eight years in office has firmly etched Nigeria as a permanent member by ensuring that Nigeria do not meet minimum standard of ‘developed’ countries, said: ‘Bola Tinubu’s election stands. If you are aggrieved, and you have the locus to do so, go to court’.
“Like the antithesis leader, the President attends international conferences with own-negative sensationalism. The above statement credited to him is inimical to development and falls short of making a developed nation.
“At the wake of the rape of the Nigerian People’s freedom of choice of who leads them by the Independent National Electoral Commission who lured the Nigerian politically-docile populace with bogus promises that votes would count, came international condemnation of the process leading to the declaration of the candidate of the ruling All Progressive Congress as President-elect whom the President allegedly pronounced with near almighty declaration to stand, in faraway Doha, Qatar.”
Govindex lamented that, “As if that was not enough, President Buhari, upon his return from Doha, caused his Senior Special Assistant on Media and Publicity, Mallam Garba Shehu, to issue a statement on March 14, purporting that the discredited February 25 poll was Nigeria’s best-ever”.
The group described the President’s pronouncements at a time when the Election Tribunal is yet to begin hearing cases lodged by Labour Party Presidential Candidate Peter Obi and his Peoples Democratic Party counterpart, Atiku Abubakar, as “a clear case of executive sub judice, a calculated attempt to over-awe, intimidate and teleguide the Judiciary into endorsing electoral theft”.
Lamenting the rape of the Nigerian people’s mandate, Govindex said: “The People, acting through the assurances of INEC did come out in defiance of politically-sponsored attacks, stood under rain and shine for hours and whole days and nights, casted their votes, counted the votes joyfully, and then, INEC shut the sacred results out of its servers in grave of violation of both their binding moral promises and legal rules. Next, INEC declared results other than the ones obtained in polling units, and posted same through unconventional doors. International Civil Society and election observers delivered damning report of willful breach of own rules by INEC, disenfranchisement by late or non-arrival of electoral materials, violent attack on voters, destruction of ballot cast to diminish opposition votes, and mutilation and swapping of electoral results amongst other vices that characterized suppression of People’s right to elect their leader. Top in the condemnation of the conduct of the February 25th 2023 Presidential election in Nigeria were head of AU observer team who said the election was below minimum standard, the EU observers, The Economist of London, the Financial Times, Guardian of U.K, the Times of London, the New York Times, German Sueddeutsche Zietung, the Washington Post, CNN and local media.”
Govindex appealed to the conscience of Justices handling the election disputes, noting that “their revered Justices have an historic duty to assert the constitutionally-guaranteed independence of the Judiciary by rendering justice in the Presidential election disputes irrespective of desperate efforts by the Executive to intimidate and teleguide it”.
This, the group said, “is the only way to rescue Nigeria’s democracy, convince the people that their vote still counts and that the Judiciary, indeed, remains the last hope of the common man”.