Posted by Timige, On 6 Nov, 2023 | Updated On 6 Nov, 2023 No Comments »
The presidential candidate of the Labour Party (LP) in the 2023 election, Peter Obi, has said the Supreme Court judgement that affirmed President Bola Tinubu’s victory contradicted the “overwhelming evidence of rigging and false claims of technical glitch” among others presented before the court.
Mr Obi stated this in Abuja on Monday while addressing a press conference on the recent court judgement on the election.
Last month, PREMIUM TIMES reported how the Supreme Court dismissed the appeal filed by Mr Obi of the Labour Party and that of the People’s Democratic Party’s (PDP) presidential candidate, Atiku Abubakar, challenging the election of Mr Tinubu.
The Presidential Election Petition Court (PEPC) had in September dismissed the petitions filed by Messrs Atiku and Obi, who came second and third respectively in the 25 February presidential poll.
“It is, therefore, with great dismay that I observe that the Court’s decision contradicts the overwhelming evidence of election rigging, false claim of a technical glitch, substantial non-compliance with rules set by INEC itself as well as matters of perjury, identity theft, and forgery that have been brought to light in the course of this election matter,” Mr Obi said.
The LP candidate’s reaction to the Supreme Court verdict was about two weeks after the court affirmed Mr Tinubu’s victory at the poll.
He said as someone who had previously benefited from the rulings of the Supreme Court on electoral matters, he decided to personally and formally react to the recent judgement as most Nigerians had done after a period of deep and sober reflection.
Mr Obi said: “Because we are confronted with very weighty issues of national interest, I will speak forthrightly. As students young lads at CKC, Onitsha, we were taught values and admonished to always; “choose the harder right, instead of the easier wrong.”
Setting legal issues aside, he emphasised that the Supreme Court exhibited a disturbing aversion to public opinion just as it abandoned its responsibility as a court of law and policy.
Mr Obi, a former governor of Anambra State, described the allegations struck out by the court as “hefty allegations” that should not be treated with levity.
More appalling, he said, is the fact that the Supreme Court judgement willfully condoned breaches of the Constitution relative to established qualifications and parameters for candidates in presidential elections.
With this counter-intuitive judgement, Mr Obi lamented that the Supreme Court has transferred a heavy moral burden from the courtrooms to their national conscience.
“Our young democracy is ultimately the main victim and casualty of the courtroom drama,” he added.
Without equivocation, the LP candidate said the judgement amounted to a total breach of the confidence the Nigerian people have in our judiciary.
To that extent, the former governor said “It is a show of unreasonable force against the very Nigerian people from whom the power of the Constitution derives.”
“This Supreme Court ruling may represent the state of the law in 2023 but not the present demand for substantive justice,” he further noted.
Mr Obi said the judgement missed principles and precepts, and that the rationale and premise of the Supreme Court judgement have become clearer in the light of the deep revealing and troubling valedictory remarks by Justice Musa Dattijo Muhammad, (JSC) on 27 October 2023.
Exhaustion of legal remedies
However, while disagreeing with the Supreme Court judgement on the outcome of the 25 February election, Mr Obi said as democrats who believe in the rule of law, they recognise that the Supreme Court is the end stage of the quest for legal closure to the matter.
“As a party and as candidates, Datti and I have now exhausted all legal and constitutional remedies available to us,” he said.
However, he said, this end is only another beginning in their quest for the vindication of the hope of the common man for a better country.
“After all, sovereignty belongs to the people! If only for historical purposes, it behoves us to place our disagreement with and deep reservations about this judgment on public record,” he said.
The LP candidate explained that they have long been aware of how weak national institutions have negatively affected the country’s democracy and that this year has been quite “remarkable and revealing.”
“INEC has displayed incompetence in the conduct of its statutory duty,” Mr Obi said.
Judiciary acted in defiance
Mr Obi emphasised that the judiciary has largely acted in defiance of constitutional tenets, precedents, and established ground rules.
He said political expediency has preceded judicial responsibility and that a mechanical application of technicalities has superseded the pursuit of justice and fairness.
“Both INEC and the Supreme Court as the referees, respectively shifted the goalposts in the middle of the game,” he said.
The former Anambra governor said where the value and import of the recent Supreme Court ruling ends is where their commitment to a New Nigeria begins, noting that their mission and mandate remain unchanged.
From the very outset, he said their mission has been more about enthroning a new Nigeria— a new nation where things work, where the country is led from its present waste and consumption orientation to a production-driven economy.
READ ALSO: Buhari speaks on Supreme Court judgement affirming Tinubu’s victory
“Our commitment is to a nation anchored on the principles of prudent management of resources to quickly pull millions out of multidimensional poverty, ensuring transparency and accountability in the equitable distribution of opportunities, resources, and privileges. In the new Nigeria, we aim to address all unmet needs by showing compassion for all those left behind by the present system,” he said.
We’re now opposition
Going forward, Mr Obi said his party and the Obidient Movement are now effectively in opposition and that they are glad that the nation has heard them loud and clear.
“We shall now expand the confines of our message of hope to the rest of the country,” he said.
He said: “We shall meet the people in the places where they feel pain and answer their needs for hope. At marketplaces, motor parks, town halls, board rooms, and university and college campuses, we all carry and deliver the message of a new Nigeria. As stakeholders and elected Labour Party officials, we shall remain loyal to our manifesto.”
While appreciating all his supporters, Mr Obi said they will continue to canvas good governance and focus on issues that promote national interest, unity, and cohesion.
“We will continue to give primacy to our Constitution, the rule of law, and the protection of ordered liberties. We will offer the checks and balances required in a functional democracy and vie robustly in forthcoming elections to elect those who share our vision of a new Nigeria,” he stated.
Source: State Cross River - Premium Time
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