By Eric Elezuo
At the end of such legal wars like the petition instituted by the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and its candidate in the February 23, 2019 Presidential Election, Alhaji Atiku Abybakar against the trio of President Muhammadu Buhari, the All Progressives Congress (APC) and the Independent National Electoral Commission at the Presidential Election Petition Tribunal, emotions are certain to flow. They are shock, indifference and celebration. Shock at the fact that the outcome was totally unexpected; indifference at the fact ‘we know that was how it would end and celebration at victory.
While however, the first two were deeply experienced and expressed, the last was conspicuosly missing.
When the election results were declared on February 25, it was obvious to observers that the PDP and Atiku Abubakar would not let go. In the first instance, they had followed events on the cyberspace to know that more of Nigerians have lost faith with the Buhari administration, and were likely to kick him out via the ballot box. Again, the party and its presidential candidate had received a lot of goodwill from many prominent Nigerians. And so when the election results proved otherwise, tempers were let loose.
PDP and Atiku have alleged that massive electoral fraud were perpetrated in addition to intimidation by security operatives and the infamous use of ‘server’ which INEC claimed was non-existent.
In a unanimous decision by the five judges of the Appeal Court led by Justice Garba Mohammed, Atiku and PDP’s petitions were dismissed ‘in its entirety’ as lacking merit, even as they decribed the evidence presented as ‘a drop in the ocean’.
Atiku’s case, which the APC described as a complete waste of time, was backed by ‘verifiable’ documents and loads of witnesses, with a claim that a server thus exist and that the process was marred by untold irregularities. But alas, the judgment of the five wise men, which took a whopping eight hours to deliver, cleverly dodged the obvious and made pronouncements which some described as voice of the respondent.
In reaction to the judgment, the two political parties said inter alia:
APC: “The APC congratulates the Judiciary for refusing to succumb to the opposition party’s subterfuge. We note the painstaking efforts and thoroughness of the Justices of the Presidential Election Petition Tribunal in arriving at their decision. Today’s judgment, no doubt, would go down in the annals of our nation as the longest and detailed, spanning almost 10 hours.
PDP: “Nigerians and the international community watched in utter disbelief when the tribunal ruled that one need not provide a copy or certified true copy of educational certificate such individual claimed to possess, contrary to established proof of claims of certification.
Among the ‘landmark’ judgments at the tribunal was the decision of the judges that attaching (academic) certificates to contest election was not necessary, quoting electoral laws, just as it informed that there is no difference between Muhammadu and Mohammed so long as there is a Buhari in it. This has no doubt left Nigerians gaping, wondering the motivation behind such judgment. It is known that once a letter in a name differentiates two documents, the documents are nullified and never tendered. It therefore, becomes an abberation for the judiciary to blatantly declare that there is nothing with Muhammadu being in one document and Mohammed being in another. Its other decision of calling to question the importance of certificates as a prerequisite for election also raises eyebrows to which a cross section of Nigerians allege rape of the law and manipulation of facts.
While the APC wallow in the euphoria of the court victory, it is important that a wholistic approach is employed to examine the extent the so called last hope of the common man has been raped or otherwise, and who actually masterminded and participated in the rape of the judiciary.