There is gradual build up of political tension in Nigeria as citizens await the Election Petition Tribunal judgement in the last February 25, 2023 Presidential election in the West Africa country.
President Bola Ahmed Tinubu who have been in Kenya for Africa Leaders meeting returned to the country on Monday after what some local media described as successful outing at the 5th Mid-Year Coordination Meeting of Africa Union.
Tinubu who was received by Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Senator George Akume, Chief of Staff, Femi Gbajabiamila, Imo State Governor, Senator Hope Uzodimma and Former Kano State Governor, Dr Abdullahi Umar Ganduje had through his lawyer at the Presidential Election Petition Court, PEPC warned that if he’s remove from office for not scoring up to 25 percent of votes cast in the Federal Capital Territory, FCT in the disputed February 25, 2023 presidential election, there could be chaos in the black Africa country.
President Bola Ahmed Tinubu reportedly made the statement in a leaked Final Written address to the Presidential Election Petition Tribunal submitted by his counsel, Wole Olanipekun. The leaked written address is currently and widely circulated by various media companies in Nigeria and beyond.
Labour Party, LP, the political party under which the former Anambra State Governor, Peter Obi contested the presidential election and the outcome of the election results at the tribunal issued a statement on Monday, describing the leaked written address of President Bola Ahmed Tinubu at the Tribunal as a deliberate plan by the ruling All Progressives Congress, APC to think they can intimidate Judges at the tribunal to interpret the electoral law from thier own viewpoints.
Tinubu asked the presidential election tribunal to dismiss the petition filed by Labour Party, seeking to nullify his victory on the grounds that he did not secure 25 percent of the lawful vote cast in the federal capital territory, FCT.
Tinubu’s lawyer, Wole Olanipekun, in a final written address to the tribunal against the petition as widely circulated, said the FCT is the 37th state for electoral purposes and any other interpretation would “lead to absurdity, chaos, anarchy and alteration of the very intention of the legislature”.
Olanipekun said the petition is novel and not familiar with the country’s electoral laws.
Also, the lawyer to President Bola Ahmed Tinubu and Vice-President Kashim Shettima, Wole Olanipekun, described the arguments and testimonies of witnesses presented by the Labour Party and other parties in the case as “frivolous, bogus, and based on hearsay”.
President Tinubu’s lawyer urged the court to dismiss the petition as totally lacking in merit, substance, and bona fide. The President lawyer also argued that the “remote” contention of the petitioners that his client’s election should be cancelled for not scoring 25 percent or one-quarter of the votes recorded in the Federal Capital Territory, FCT is not backed by any fact known to the law as the use of “and” in the constitution is conjunctive and not disjunctive.
“Any other interpretation different from this will lead to absurdity, chaos, anarchy and alteration of the very intention of the legislature.
“Our courts have always adopted the purposeful approach to the interpretation of our Constitution, as exemplified in a host of decisions. Even if there was no election in one State (including the FCT), or even if the election of a State/States (including the FCT) is/are voided, the entire election cannot be voided or cancelled.
“In concluding our arguments on this issue, we urge the court to hold that any election where the electorate exercise their plebiscite, there is neither a ‘royal’ ballot nor ‘royal’ voter; and that residents of the FCT do not have any special voting right over residents of any other State of the federation, in a manner similar to the concepts of preferential shareholding in Company Law.
“We urge this court to resolve this issue against the petitioners and in favour of the respondent”, President Tinubu’s lawyers led by Wole Olanipekun reportedly said in their final defense statement to the Election Petition Tribunal Court.
Labour Party however said such scare mongering has no basis in law and should be ignored.
Labour Party in a statement signed by its Acting National Publicity Secretary, Obiora Ifoh, in Abuja on Monday said in quote: “The Labour Party has taken note of the news making the round purportedly from the leader of the All Progressives Congress, Bola Ahmed Tinubu, where he allegedly warned the Presidential Election Petition Court (PREPEC), that interpreting the law as provided for in the constitution on the 25% of lawful votes cast in the Federal Capital Territory (FCT), Abuja, could “lead to absurdity, chaos, anarchy and alteration of the very intention of the legislature.”
“We are worried that the statement which formed part of his submissions and was contained in his final written address against the Labour Party’s petition pending at the PREPEC, and meant to be in the exclusive custody of the court was leaked to the media.
“We still do not know the reason behind this act of desperation, even when the matter is still pending in court. We will however be careful not to term the action as “Sub-judice”.
“Having said that, the Labour Party thinks that the statement was unnecessary since the matter is already before the court, and going ahead to pontificate on it could be construed as interference in the duties and responsibilities of the judiciary.
“The truth of the matter is that there are no sentiments when it comes to matters of law. The law is the law and once the law has stipulated the manner and how a matter must be carried out, it must follow that pattern.“If the law has stated the requirement that a presidential candidate must meet before he can be declared, there is no shortcut to it.
“Therefore, if the constitution which is the ground norm of the law in Nigeria has stated clearly that you must score at least 25 percent in FCT before the president can be declared, anything short of that can not remedy it.
“It is on this note that we request, that caution must be applied by the camp of the APC in its subtle but very clear pressure believed, is being mounted on the judiciary to see the developments from its lense.
“We insist that no amount of threat from the APC on the judges in the tribunal can change the processes and requirements that the law has put in place. It must be followed and that is the position of the Labour Party.
“We recall very clearly a mild but stern threat during the ‘Democracy Day’ Speech made by the APC-led administration where it stated emphatically that “It has become imperative to state here that the unnecessary illegal orders used to truncate or abridge democracy will no longer be tolerated.”
“We noted then that the warning appeared threatening enough as it sounded more totalitarian but today we are confronted with a sterner approach to whipping the judiciary into a pathway, a development if allowed unchallenged will spell doom for the nation.
“We see in that statement a call on the armies of the APC to awaken to their sworn vow to return to the trenches just the way they unleashed terror on our supporters during the February election.
“The same thugs that perpetrated “absurdity, chaos, and anarchy” and who were used to alter the will of Nigerians are still very present and willing to do the will of their paymasters.
“Let me assure the APC and their leaders that if there were no “absurdity, chaos, and anarchy” when they forced their way into power, Nigeria will still witness peace when they are eventually evicted from power.”