Former Vice President Atiku Abubakar, the presidential candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in the 2023 election, has raised serious concerns over alleged threats made by the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) against judges of the Election Tribunal. The allegations were made public in a statement issued by Atiku’s media adviser, Paul Ibe, on Saturday, July 22, 2023.
According to the statement, Atiku Abubakar has called on Nigerians to be vigilant in the face of potential attempts to influence the judiciary, and he has also alerted the international community to the situation.
The former Vice President expressed his disappointment with the previous election, claiming it to be the worst in the history of democratic politics in Nigeria, despite being promised as the best ever. He believes that the election’s outcome and the questionable conduct of the electoral umpire in declaring a winner against the requirements of the law are the main reasons for challenging the election’s results.
In the statement, Ibe emphasized the importance of an independent judiciary, stating that the judiciary’s interpretations of the law have played a significant role in Nigeria’s democratic journey thus far. He stressed that the principle of separation of powers is vital to ensure the judiciary’s independence from political actors and maintain its sacred duty of upholding justice.
However, as the court proceedings related to the controversial February 25 election continue, Ibe noted that the ruling party has been resorting to threats, seeking to intimidate the judiciary from carrying out its duty impartially. He cited media reports that allege plots to harass the justices presiding over the election petition, which, according to Ibe, pose a significant threat to the nation’s peace and security.
Atiku Abubakar’s legal team, in their quest for justice, has vowed to operate within the confines of the law to resist any attempts to undermine Nigeria’s fragile democracy. They also called on the international community to closely monitor the situation and prevent the judiciary from being manipulated to serve the interests of the ruling party.
Drawing attention to historical instances of alleged judicial intimidation, Ibe mentioned the 2019 removal of Chief Justice of Nigeria, Justice Walter Onnoghen, and the subsequent appointment of Justice Tanko Muhammad. Although Justice Muhammad faced accusations of corruption from his colleagues at the Supreme Court, the APC-led government did not pursue any action against him, leading to suspicions that the motive behind Onnoghen’s removal was politically driven.
Ibe further asserted that the APC has a track record of intimidating the judiciary, pointing to incidents where they accused multiple judges of corruption, raided their homes, and got them suspended, but failed to secure any convictions. Justice Sylvester Ngwuta of the Supreme Court, one of the accused judges, tragically passed away while in office.
The media adviser claimed that the current plot by the APC is to intimidate judges to deliver favorable judgments in their favor during the election tribunal proceedings, in a bid to secure victory. He stressed that such actions could potentially steal the mandate of over 200 million Nigerian citizens.
In conclusion, Atiku Abubakar urged Nigerians to remain vigilant, as eternal vigilance is the price of liberty. He also called on all security agencies to uphold their professionalism and resist being manipulated as instruments of oppression and intimidation against the judiciary.
The upcoming election tribunal verdict is being closely watched, with concerns about potential interference in the judiciary’s independence and the impact it could have on Nigeria’s democracy. As the nation awaits the tribunal’s decision, it remains to be seen how these allegations will unfold and whether they will have a lasting impact on the political landscape.