By Suleiman Umaru and Lateef Adegbite
This is not the best of times in Nigerian’s political history. Barely two weeks after the conduct of the just concluded Presidential elections by the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, under the close watch of Prof. Mahmood Yakubu, that saw the emergence of Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu, BAT, popular, Jagaban, a former governor of Lagos state governor, the duo of Atiku Abubakar, a former Vice President and Presidential Candidate of the lead Opposition party, People’s Democratic Party, PDP and Peter Obi, a former governor o Anambra state and Labour party , LP, Flag bearer during the February 25, 2023, Presidential elections have dragged Tinubu, the President –elect and the Electoral umpire to the Presidential Election Court .
Many believe that there was no basis for the duo, Atiku, and Obi, to head to the Presidential Election Court, because of the efforts being made by him in the recent time to make peace with them and carry them along I the task of rebuilding the country. Obi, the LP Candidate, who could not hide his feelings had said that ‘’if peace means allowing faulty foundation to stand without challenging the process legally, then that is a line he will not toe’, ’insisting that he is ‘’challenging the process’’. He has made Nigerians to understand that that ‘’it is the faulty foundation of the process that saw Tinubu, emerge at jst concluded Presidential election that is being by him and his party.
Atiku Candidate of Opposition PDP, said that much also when he lamented the inability of the Commission to upload the results of the Presidential elections as promised on the Commission’s viewing portal, ReV, claiming that it was done ostensibly to rig the elections in favour of the APC Candidate in order to be Nigerian’s next President after the expiration of Buhari’s tenure on May 29, 2023.
Recall that in setting up the Tribunal a in appointing the Judges to resolve the disputes that may arise from the Febebruary 25, 2023, Presidential elections, Justice Olukayode Ariwola, the Chief Justice of Nigeria, CJN, had made the Judges to understand that ‘’the task of adjudicating electoral disputes is not an undertaking to be handled with levity’’.
The CJN, was said to have admonished the Judges ‘’to discharge these onerous responsibilities with honesty, integrity and transparency’’. He was said to have also asked them to do what is right in the country’s Law books and the Oath that has just been administered on them.
The CJN, may have unbarred his mind to the Election Tribunal Judges when he said that he will not condone any act of’’ recklessness, abuse of power and public trust’’. This may have given Atiku, the PDPD, Flag bearer and Obi, his Counterpart, in the LP, to head to the Presidential Election Tribunal.
The two aggrieved, PDP and LP, Presidential Candidates may have also been encouraged to head to the Tribunal because President Muhammadu Buhari, had advised the losers in the elections to Tinubu, the APC, flag bearer, and who can prove the fraud , they claimed was committed against hem during the elections, to bring forward the evidence and please head to Court and not taking the elections issues to the streets or making inflammatory statements that will inflame and put the people on the alarm’s way
The Katsina state born Nigerian President who could hide his feelings had said that doing so will not be in ‘’the interest of the interest of Nigerians but only ‘’ to achieve their personal and selfish interest ,urging them ‘’ to follow the matter legally’’.
Indeed, Obi, the LP, Candidate may have cued into the Nigerian President’s advice as he has told his supporters , the Obidients,’’ to be calm and peaceful’’ as he is going ahead with his plan to challenge the process that produced the APC Candidate as the winner of the just concluded Presidential elections.
The former Anambra state governor who was of the opinion that the LP, with him as the flag bearer, was the actual winner of the Presidential polls had said that he will ‘’reclaim the mandate freely given to him by Nigerians trough the Court process’’.
He has said to have made it clear to those that cares to listen that the conduct of the February 25, 2023, Presidential elections, collation and announcement of results by Prof, Yakubu, the INEC, Chairman, was fraught with fraud , noting that ‘’this cannot happen anywhere in the world’’.
He was emphatic that ‘’it was the faulty foundation that saw, Tinubu, the former Lagos state governor emerge as the winner of the elections currently being challenged in the Presidential elections Court. The LP, Candidate , who believes he won the February 25, 2023, Presidential elections based on the facts and figures , obtained from the party agents at the polling units, Wards , Local governments and state levels, was may have approached the Court in Abuja, the Federal Capital Territory, FCT, to allow him inspect the materials used for the elections.
He may have also been joined by his PDP, counterpart, Atiku, in approaching the Presidential Election Court, seeking to be allowed to inspect the materials used during the elections. The recent release of the comprehensive result of the National Assembly election conducted in Rivers state penultimate, in which the PDP, won the three Senatorial Seats and 11, House of Representatives Seat, leaving out only one House of Representatives each for the APC and LP, may have strengthened the resolve of the PDP, Candidate, to fight the legal battle too upturn the Tinubu ‘s election to the end.
Given the mandate to the PEC, by Justice Ariwola, the CJN, to handle all petitions emanating from the conduct of the February 25, 2023, elections, may have informed why the Court granted the duo petition ‘’to inspect the election materials deployed during the Saturday’s Presidential elections.
The duo were said to have urged Justice the Joseph Ikyegh, led panel , which will also sit as the Presidential Election Petition Tribunal, ‘’to compel the Electoral umpire to allow them to obtain documents in its custody that were used for the Presidential election.
They were said to have asked the Court to compel the Commission to release the documents in its custody used for the elections as it would aid their petition against the outcome of the Presidential election, that was declared in favour of Tinubu, of the APC, candidate.
Tinubu, who has been declared President-elect and issued Certificate of return by the Commission may have gladdened the heart of his followers that there was no course to worry as the election would not be upturned by the Court as he has all the evidence to show that he won the election , clean and clear.
Festus Keyamo, Director , Public Relations, Tinubu/Shettima, Presidential Organisation, may have spoken the mind of the President –elect when he sent a message to the duo, Obi and Atiku, challenging the President -elect that’’ they will meet in Court, anywhere, anytime’’.
Bayo Onanuga, Director of Media and publicity of the APC, Presidential Campaign Council, PCC, may have sent a message to Obi of the LP and Atiku, flag bearer of the PDP, that they should not celebrate that the PEC, has given them the go- ahead to inspect the electoral materials used during the elections as the President-elect will only engage them in Court , only if they have concrete evidence to prove that the election that saw his emergence as the winner of the election was rigged and why it should have been either of them that should have been declared the winner of the elections by Prof. Yakubu, the country’s Chief Electoral Officer.
Not that Obi , the LP, Candidate, had claimed that he was robbed of the mandate, freely given to him by Nigerians by Tinubu, the APC , Candidate, in Collaboration with INEC officials jut as Atiku of the PDP, also claimed, he won the Saturday, February 25, 2023, Presidential election. According to close Associates, the PDP Candidate is not concerned about INEC, declaring him the winner of the Presidential election but to cancel the entire election process and reschedule it.
Aware of the troubles encountered in the conduct of the Presidential election due to the inability f the Commission to effectively use the BVAS, may have informed why the INEC boss, who is not ready to take any criticisms any longer has given his words to Nigerians who are disenchanted in coming out to vote as it will not count that the BVSA technology will be used in forthcoming governorship and state Assembly elections. This is an indications that it was not deployed during the Presidential elections.
He was very categorical in his Statement that BVAS, will be used for the governorship and state Assembly elections. He had said that that the devices are being worked on to avoid a repeat of the hitches recorded in the last Presidential election, across the country.
Perhaps to ensure the adhoc are not compromised as experienced during the Presidential election may have encouraged him to have directed the Resident Electoral Commissioners, RECs, to ensure that the adhoc staff be made ‘’to undergo refresher training ahead of the governorship and state Assembly elections. The refresher training , going by the directive of the INEC, Chairman, are being conducted for the adhoc staff who were said to have participated in the conduct of the February 2, 2023, Presidential elections.
The INEC helms man, was said to have also ordered the RECs, to ensure that the adhoc staff are ‘’properly trained so that the processes are not delayed or compromised at any stage of the elections. He may have giving hope to the over 93 million registered voters by urging the RECs to ensure that stafffound to be negligent in the conduct of the Last Presidential and National Assembly elections were dismissed
. His recent actions to restore people’s confidence on the Commission to conduct of elections may be hard as their enthusiasm have died down because of what happened during the last Presidential elections where the election was manipulated and votes manufactured by INEC, making nonsense of the electorates vote. The impression among the generality of Nigerians is that even if they turn out to vote, it is the person that INEC and power brokers , both within and outside the government that will still win in their respective states.