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Presidential Election Petition: Why Tribunal Judges must be cautious — Diaspora Africans

The Diaspora Action For Democracy in Africa (DADA) has called on Nigeria Government and the Judiciary to respect the wishes of Nigerians.


The group while stating this during a press conference on Thursday said that the results from Nigeria’s general elections had been under scrutiny from May 2023 as courts considered several petitions, reports News Express.


It recalled that about 327 petitions had been filed with election tribunals across the country to challenge President Bola Tinubu’s victory at the polls.


While saying that Nigeria’s 2023 election has moved from the ballot box to the court room, the group said: “It was one of those under the microscope, as rivals challenged his election.”


It added: “This is as the country’s Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) insisted it had done its job as referee well, pushing back on allegations of irregularities.


“Be that as it may, the tribunal concluded sittings on 1st August and Nigerians now await decisions from the honourable judges presiding over the Presidential Election Tribunal in Nigeria: Hon. Justice Haruna Tsammani, Hon. Justice Stephen Jonah Ada, Hon. Justice Mistura Omodere Bolaji-Yusuf, Hon. Justice Boloukuoromo Moses Ugo, and Hon. Justice Abba Bello Mohammed.


“We believe strongly and the judges know, that, in the history of Nigeria, no other election tribunal has raised the consciousness of Nigerians more than the 2023 presidential election which they are currently presiding over.


“As far as Nigeria and the 2023 presidential election tribunal are concerned, the mantra, All Eyes on The Judiciary, which has assumed the position of Nigeria’s fearless twitterati should tell judges that it is no longer business as usual.


“Arising from our discussions with a wide array of Nigerians is the fear that the judiciary needs to be cautious because if their verdict fails to satisfy the requirements of justice it may detonate the youth’s simmering anger and set the country ablaze.”


DADA said it concurs with the saying of Rev. Fr. John Odey who wrote: “The lessons we can learn from the #EndSars Protests, and the 2023 elections is this:


“When the people are pinned against the wall of despair, when they are unjustifiably compelled to be poor, miserable and hopeless, when they are systematically denied of all sources of decent living, when they cannot trust their leaders, when they have justifiable reasons to be angry, when they cannot trust the police as the guardians of law and order, when the law that should be their last hope turns round to become their worst enemy with the result that they cannot trust the justice system, and finally, when the nation itself ignores the justifiable rage of the neglected younger generation as it happened during the End-SARS protest of October 2020 and during the electoral savagery of the 2023 elections, there is the threat of some violent explosion unless the situation is redressed.”


The group explained that its purpose is geared towards facilitating, promoting and supporting the advancement of democracy that deliver good governance on the African continent, by leveraging the African Diaspora across the world, employing their creativity and resources to regenerate African civilization and modernization.


According to the group DADA delegation is in Nigeria as the largest African country and the largest black nation.


It added: “One out of four black person is a Nigerian, and so Nigeria is central to DADA operations, visions, and missions because a stable and democratic Nigeria is central to the emancipation of the African continent and the entire black race.


“Over the past 4 weeks and in pursuit of our Overarching Purpose, a DADA delegation embarked on extensive discussions with Nigerians both at home and diaspora over promoting democracy and rule of law in Nigeria.”


DADA reeled out two major issues that have emerged as matters of utmost national importance not only to Nigerians, but to all Africans and friends of Africa, to include, the 2023 Nigeria Presidential Election and consequent Judicial process, and the ECOWAS threat to deploy military forces to overturn the military coup in Niger Republic


The group insisted that the Judiciary is the only institution that has all that it takes to save this country from the threat of implosion. All eyes have been on the judiciary because of Nigeria’s respect for the law.


It stressed that though the members of the Presidential Election Tribunal are in a better position in the election case to tell Nigerians the person who won the presidential election, Nigerians do not need to wait for any court to tell them the winner of any election.


DADA added: “It is the electorate that should tell the court so because they know more than the court whom they voted to be their president.


“But since it is the prerogative of the court to ensure that truth and justice prevail each time they are disputed, to make room for peace and harmony, the court has been given enough evidence to prove the real winner of the 2023 presidential election.


“We deplore the threat by a candidate in the elections against the judiciary that if he is removed for not measuring up to the demands of the electoral laws of the land there will be chaos and anarchy in the country. Under normal circumstances that should be an empty threat because he is not bigger than Nigeria. Rather, what is likely to cause chaos and anarchy will be any attempt to pervert the justice that is so glaring. In all, it is submitted that the outlook for the Judiciary in 2023 is a tricky one.


“To be sure, there have been moments in Nigeria’s history when the Judiciary distinguished itself as a bastion of our democracy and cherished rule of law principles. Opinions are however, bound to be divided, as to whether the recent outlook of that institution inspires similar hope at this time.


“Whatever side of the divide one might identify with, what is however, clear, is that we might have just come to one of such critical junctures in our history again, and the enormous role of the Judiciary in shaping it, should not be lost on it.”


On the issue of ECOWAS and the coup in Niger Republic, DADA said that the recent developments in neighbouring country have become the subject of international attention.


According to it, “For Nigeria, this development is a matter of dire and urgent national interest and security. Inevitably, Niger is a hot button issue for ECOWAS, as well as various international interlocutors.


“Regional leaders ended their second emergency summit on Niger in Abuja on Thursday 10th August, by “ordering the deployment of the ECOWAS Standby Force to restore constitutional order in Niger,” where the military deposed elected President Mohamed Bazoum in a coup on 26th of July.


“Nigerian President Bola Tinubu, who is Chair of the Authority had in his opening address, said that no option was off the table, including the use of force to restore constitutional order in Niger. Algeria, another key Niger neighbour.


“Along with three ECOWAS suspended member States ruled by the military – Mali, Guinea, and Burkina Faso – have kicked against any military intervention in Niger.Mali and Burkina Faso military regimes have warned that military action by ECOWAS would be considered a declaration of war against their countries and could lead to their withdrawal from ECOWAS and their joint measures to defend the armed forces and people of Niger.


“Given such a delicate scenario, ECOWAS’ threat to deploy its Standby force to Niger also runs against independent dissenting opinions.Defence experts have expressed reservations about the appropriateness of such as a high-risk option as well as the practicality of the military deployment, given that the regional Standby Force has been facing financial and operationalisation challenges.


“In the words of Paul Ejime, an ECOWAS and AU Conflict Resolution Consultant, “Apart from the possibility of a military confrontation escalating into a catastrophic war, and the consequences of military intervention in the complex environment can be better imagined than experienced.


“Therefore, regardless of the positions taken by various parties that have direct or tangential interests in Niger, primacy must be given to dialogue and diplomacy towards a resolution with minimal disruptive impact on Nigeria and the West African sub region.


“Whereas ECOWAS authorities have indicated that they remain open to various conflict resolution options, diplomacy should remain the overarching imperative in resolving the present crisis.”


DADA said it is lending its support to the many well-meaning Nigerians who have advocated that any intervention in the crisis, should be pre-eminently through diplomatic dialogue among all strategic interests in the crisis.


It stressed that the people of Niger are allowed via their national institutions, the opportunity to revert quickly to a representative democratic government even while urging ECOWAS to seek to discourage the spread of military dictatorships in West Africa.


It said that the recourse to armed deterrence must be restrained by multilateral diplomatic mechanisms.


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