Former Vice President Alhaji Atiku Abubakar has regretted that the All Progressives Congress (APC) has turned the Nigerian judiciary to a ‘cash and carry’ institution where, according to him, “politicians who don’t participate in primaries are named as candidates while actual winners of elections are sacked for flimsy reasons”.
Atiku, in a statement by his media adviser Paul Ibe, said the nation’s judiciary delivers judgements but not justice. He added that some pronouncements of the judiciary in the election petitions before it are ominous signs that threaten Nigeria’s democracy, and said it was evidence that democracy in the country has been compromised.
Atiku noted that all the states where the courts made controversial declarations are states controlled by the opposition political parties. “From Kano, Zamfara and now to Plateau State, where we are witnessing a situation in which what the ruling party missed out on election day are being delivered to them through the courts,” he added.
The former vice president stated that the ideal notion of democracy does not just reside in a representative government but rooted in the plurality of ideas, adding that for a system to be seen as truly democratic, it must accommodate opposition and opposing views.
“Sadly and suddenly, we have seen a trend whereby the range of opposition engagement continues to be narrowed by the ruling party in Nigeria,” he stated. According to him: “Either through the electoral process where opposition parties are rigged out with brazen impunity, or during the post-election court processes where the judiciary is conspicuously doing the biddings of the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC), it has become increasingly apparent that the democracy in Nigeria is in a state of ill-health.
“It is also crystal clear that the ruling party will not desist from this inglorious ideology of ‘snatch, grab and run away with power’.” Atiku described as worrisome what happened in the Plateau governorship election petition, and said it was a confirmation of the threat allegedly echoed by an APC lawmaker in a viral video, that the ruling party will compromise the judicial process to ensure its ultimate victory in the courts.
He, however, said Nigeria is not surprised at what is going on, pointing out that in Lagos State where President Tinubu holds sway, opposition became an anathema. “Everyone including judges was forced to join his party. The few opposition members who managed to get elected were beaten to submission, including at the Lagos State House of Assembly where the sole PDP member back in 2018 was suspended and arrested for gun running but mysteriously had the charges dropped immediately after he defected to the APC.
“Recently, the Asset Management Corporation of Nigeria (AMCON) withdrew a N135 billion lawsuit it had instituted against an opposition senator from Anambra State less than 24 hours after he defected to the ruling party,” he added.
The Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) candidate in the last presidential election said it is mysterious that the same panel that sat and heard all the election petition cases from Plateau State ordered that the APC be declared winner in elections where the PDP came first and Labour Party came second, and in some other cases, ordered a rerun to give the APC a chance of victory.
He recalled Justice Dattijo Muhammad valedictory speech, which he said, was buttressed by Olumide Akpata, the immediate past President of the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA) that judgments emanating from courts in recent times have been questionable and show obvious compromise.