Posted by Adebiyi Adedapo and Chibuzo Ukaibe | 13 March 2019 | 1,212 times
The ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) and the opposition parties yesterday returned to the trenches over the composition of the members of the Presidential Election Petitions Tribunal. The tribunal’s members, which the opposition under the aegis of the Coalition of United Political Parties (CUPP), alleged yesterday, were handpicked by the APC, will entertain the suit filed against President Muhammadu Buhari’s re-election by the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) presidential candidate, Alhaji Atiku Abubakar.
CUPP fired the first shot yesterday when it claimed to have intercepted a “five-man list of the justices of the Court of Appeal” approved by the appellate court president with the endorsement of the APC to hear Atiku’s petition where he challenged the validity of the results of the Saturday, February 23, 2019, presidential election.
The APC, in its swift and sharp response, said that the allegations ran foul of common sense and demonstrated the authors’ poor understanding of the workings of the country’s judiciary. In a statement CUPP issued through its spokesman, Mr. Ikenga Ugochinyere, the coalition claimed that the approved list which it intercepted during its conveyance from the Presidential Villa back to the Court of Appeal was drawn from a list of eight justices submitted for approval.
Ugochinyere said: “Nigerians will recall that we had earlier raised an alarm over the donation of a senatorial ticket to the husband of the president of the Court of Appeal by the APC. We had questioned the rationale behind such donation when he did not participate in the primaries if not to secure the assurance of his wife, the president of the court, to constitute with the approval of the presidency the panel that will hear any petition challenging the outcome of the elections.
“It was also a failure to secure similar assurances from the chief justice of Nigeria (CJN) that led to the onslaught on him by the federal government as the honourable chief justice had insisted on doing only justice and nothing else.
“The list is drafted in such a way that without any matter properly being before the justices, the panel has been rigged and skewed with three of the justices on the list having been approached and commitments secured from them that no matter the evidence put before them, they were going to rule in favour of the president,” CUPP alleged.
The opposition parties further accused the panelist of being agents and officers of the president and not officers in the temple of justice.
Consequently, CUPP called on the accused justices to recuse themselves from the panel. According to Ugochinyere, “the intelligence at our disposal which formed the basis for all the views canvassed in this statement is that these three justices have already given their commitment to the presidency that they will rule in favour of the president at the tribunal hence they cannot dispense justice. “This idea of the villa approving the list of justices that will sit over any matter particularly the one where the president is a party is novel and tyranny taken too far. The president has annexed the judiciary and the hope of the common man is blighted. “Nigerians must rise in defence of the judiciary and insist that justice must be done in this circumstance.
“Announcing justices who have shown bias already to the case of Atiku even at the preliminary stage of ordinary request for forensic analysis of election materials will not augur well for the stability of Nigeria and the institution/wheel of justice,” CUPP stated.
In his verbal attack on CUPP over its allegations, the spokesman of the APC Presidential Campaign Council, Mr. Festus Keyamo (SAN), said that the allegation was an “insult on the integrity of the judges who are members of the tribunal.”
“That is an insult on the integrity of the judges,” Keyamo said.
He said that the opposition political parties were behaving like “crying babies” over the composition of the tribunal. The senior lawyer remarked that the opposition parties were in the habit of dictating their ideas and thoughts to government agencies and institutions.
Keyamo said: “They are behaving like crying babies, they cannot dictate to everybody as they want. They want to dictate to the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) what they want, they want to dictate to the government what they want and now they want to dictate to the judiciary on their terms. “I think they should just go ahead and appoint Uche Secondus (PDP national chairman) as the chairman of the tribunal,” Keyamo said.
•Sourced from a Leadership report
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