by Samuel Ogundipe,
A Former Vice President, Atiku Abubakar, criticised the verdict of the Supreme Court on the 2019 presidential elections on Wednesday.
Mr Abubakar, the main challenger to President Muhammadu Buhari at the election, said the top court has been hijacked by Mr Buhari’s dictatorial tendencies, even though he accepted its verdict.
A panel of seven judges led by Muhammad Tanko dismissed Mr Abubakar’s appeal against the ruling of the presidential election petitions tribunal last month.
Mr Abubakar said the ruling showed the Supreme Court had also been undermined and rendered ineffective as part of Mr Buhari’s alleged repressive tactics. He said the media and the electoral commission were not spared by the president.
Several Nigerian journalists have been controversially detained since Mr Buhari assumes office in 2015, reigniting memories of his repressive military junta of the 1980s.
Weeks to the 2019 elections, the president controversially removed the country’s chief justice from office, a move that was widely suspected to be political by local and international bodies.
Mr Buhari has repeatedly denied being dictatorial in his handling of Nigeria, saying people were reluctant to live with his policy of not allowing business-as-usual to continue in the country.
His party, the All Progressives Congress, has welcomed the ruling as a victory for Nigerians that would enable Mr Buhari to continue his policies without distraction.
Mr Abubakar said Nigerians would decide whether or not the Supreme Court was fair and courageous in its ruling on the 2019 elections, which held on February 23.
He also said he would continue to push for a better Nigeria, but expressed heavy misgivings about the country’s ability to emerge from its current situation.
“If we do not build a free Nigeria, we may end up destroying her, and God forbid that that should be the case,” he said.
Read his full statement as sent to PREMIUM TIMES below.
Supreme Court Judgement, Part of our Democratic Challenges
It is said that the Supreme Court is not final because it is infallible, but that it is infallible because it is final. While I believe that only God is infallible everywhere, and only Nigerians are infallible in our democracy, I must accept that the judicial route I chose to take, as a democrat, has come to a conclusion.
Whether justice was done, is left to the Nigerian people to decide. As a democrat, I fought a good fight for the Nigerian people. I will keep on fighting for Nigeria and for democracy, and also for justice.
I thank all Nigerians who have stayed the course since the commencement of trial in the petition on the February 23 presidential election.
The judgement is part of democratic challenges we must face as a nation.
The Nigerian judiciary, just like every estate of our realm, has been sabotaged and undermined by an overreaching and dictatorial cabal, who have undone almost all the democratic progress the Peoples Democratic Party and its administrations nurtured for sixteen years, up until 2015.
Can Nigeria continue like this? Recently, former United States Assistant Secretary of State for Africa, Linda Thomas-Greenfield, averred that Nigeria had rolled back the democratic gains she made in 2015. When democracy is rolled back, the economy, the society and the judiciary will not be far behind. Today, the nail has been put on the coffin and the gains we collectively made since 1999 are evaporating, and a requiem is at hand.
In a democracy, you need a strong judiciary, a free press and an impartial electoral umpire. Nigeria has none of those three elements as at today.
One man, one woman, one youth, one vote, should be the only way to make gains in a democracy. And when that is thwarted, the clock starts to tick.
Two and a half millennia ago, Sophocles said “If we are to keep our democracy, there must be one commandment: “Thou shalt not ration justice.” Nigeria will do well to observe this warning.
To those who think they have broken my spirit, I am sorry to disappoint you. I am too focused on Nigeria to think about myself. I gave up that luxury twenty years ago. The question is not if I am broken. The question is if Nigeria is whole?
This is not a time for too many words. It will suffice for me to remind Nigeria of this – we are an independent nation and we are the architects of our fate. If we do not build a free Nigeria, we may end up destroying her, and God forbid that that should be the case.
I was a democrat, I am a democrat, and I will always continue to be a democrat. May God bless Nigeria.
30th October 2019
Presidential candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party and Vice President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999-2007.