IDOMA VOICE reports that the resounding chorus of “All eyes on the judiciary” has become a rallying cry among Nigerian youths, particularly supporters of the Labour Party’s presidential candidate in the last election, Peter Obi.
This fervent anticipation centers around the impending judgement of the presidential election petition tribunal, which revolves around the petition against the victory of Bola Tinubu of the All Progressives Congress (APC) in the recent election, IDOMA VOICE reports….CONTINUE READING
In the crowded field of 17 candidates who vied in the election, Tinubu emerged victorious, according to the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC).
He secured a total of 8,794,726 votes, the highest among all candidates, satisfying the primary constitutional requirement for victory. Additionally, he surpassed the stipulated 25 percent threshold in 30 states, more than the constitutionally mandated 24 states.
Tinubu’s closest contender, Atiku Abubakar of the People’s Democratic Party (PDP), garnered a total of 6,984,520 votes, placing him second. Peter Obi of the Labour Party secured third place with 6,101,533 votes, followed by Rabiu Kwankwaso of the New Nigeria Peoples Party (NNPP) in fourth with 1,496,687 votes.
Unsatisfied with the outcome and the process that led to Tinubu’s victory, both Atiku Abubakar and Peter Obi decided to challenge the election results by approaching the tribunal. As of now, all parties involved have presented their cases, and the tribunal has reserved its judgement.
Subsequently, fervent supporters of Peter Obi have taken to the streets with billboards, urging the judiciary to ensure that the people’s will prevails.
Legal landmarksA notable milestone occurred with the first presidential election tribunal convened after the 1983 elections. This event set a precedent highlighting the pivotal role of legal resolutions within Nigeria’s democratic process. Amid accusations of irregularities, the tribunal’s verdict upheld Shehu Shagari’s victory, sparking extensive discussions regarding the impartiality of the judiciary.
The early 2000s were marked by a series of closely contested presidential elections, and the outcomes of the tribunal cases during this period significantly shaped the political landscape of the nation. Notably, the 2003 tribunal upheld Olusegun Obasanjo’s reelection in the face of allegations of electoral fraud, underscoring the complexities involved in proving such misconduct.
The aftermath of the 2007 elections was characterized by momentous legal battles that ultimately led to a decisive Supreme Court ruling. Despite fervent claims of irregularities by the then-candidate of the All Nigeria Peoples Party (ANPP), Muhammadu Buhari, the Supreme Court affirmed the victory of Umaru Yar’Adua.
The 2011 presidential election tribunal put the intricate balance between political interests and judicial impartiality under a glaring spotlight. The tribunal’s verdict, which upheld Goodluck Jonathan’s victory, remained steadfast despite allegations of electoral misconduct leveled by the presidential candidates of the Congress for Progressive Change (CPC) and the Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN), namely Muhammadu Buhari and Nuhu Ribadu.
In 2015, following the merger of the Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN), All Nigeria Peoples Party (ANPP), and Congress for Progressive Change (CPC) to form the All Progressives Congress (APC), Muhammadu Buhari emerged victorious in the election. Notably, the incumbent president, Goodluck Jonathan, conceded defeat without resorting to legal challenges.
The 2019 elections once again thrust legal battles into the upper echelons of Nigeria’s judicial system. The Supreme Court’s ruling confirming Buhari’s reelection reinforced the notion that legal avenues serve as a legitimate means to address electoral disputes and validate the collective will of the populace.
Fast-forwarding to 2023, there is a prevailing hope among some Nigerians that the judiciary might nullify Tinubu’s victory due to the circumstances surrounding his declaration as the winner. A central argument hinges on the contention that Tinubu did not secure the constitutionally mandated 25 percent of votes cast in the Federal Capital Territory (FCT).
Judicial independence: A Pillar of democracy
The question of whether the judiciary can overturn an election outcome carries significant implications for Nigeria’s democracy. The judiciary’s role as an impartial arbiter is crucial to ensuring that electoral processes are transparent, fair, and accountable. Over the years, the Nigerian judiciary has faced its share of scrutiny and praise as it navigated these intricate waters.
In the 2019 elections, for instance, legal battles reached the apex of the judicial system, with the Supreme Court validating President Buhari’s reelection.
The case of Tinubu: A challenge to the norm
As Nigeria inches closer to the judgement in the case against Tinubu’s victory, the nation is confronted with a pivotal moment that challenges the status quo.
The allegations brought forward by the petitioners, including claims of rigged elections and the failure of INEC to adhere to certain procedures, which include the use of BVAS, underscore the complexity of the situation.
The petitioners’ assertion that Tinubu did not secure the constitutionally required 25 percent of votes cast in the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) raises legitimate questions.
Additionally, allegations about Tinubu’s educational qualifications and past have added layers of intrigue to the case.
The Verdict: A watershed moment
The impending judgement holds the potential to set a precedent that could resonate throughout Nigeria’s democratic future. Should the tribunal rule in favour of the petitioners and nullify Tinubu’s victory, it would mark the first time in Nigeria’s history that an elected president is removed through legal proceedings.
The decision will not only impact the individuals involved in this particular case but also send a message about the strength and resilience of Nigeria’s judiciary. It will reaffirm the judiciary’s commitment to upholding democratic values and ensuring that the rule of law prevails.
Bottomline: The power of the gavel
In a country where political tensions can run high, the judiciary remains a beacon of hope for citizens seeking justice and fairness. Nigeria’s democratic journey, with its twists and turns, victories and challenges, has brought the role of the judiciary to the forefront.
The forthcoming judgement in the case against Tinubu is an opportunity for the judiciary to demonstrate its independence, impartiality, and commitment to the nation’s democratic ideals.
As Nigerians hold their breaths in anticipation, the gavel’s verdict will undoubtedly shape the trajectory of the nation’s democratic voyage, echoing far beyond the confines of a courtroom.
Indeed, all eyes on the judiciary as judgement day approaches….CONTINUE READING