The ruling by the Presidential Election Petition Tribunal (PEPT) led by 5-member team of justices from the appeal court and high courts upholding the electoral victory of the President Bola Ahmed Tinubu will go a long way in upholding our democracy and strengthening the efforts and independence of the Independent Electoral Commission (INEC).
The handling of the legal process and the verdict delivery displayed high level of legal sagacity, professionalism, and responsibility on the part of the tribunal judges despite the media and social media attacks lunch against their personalities and their families. The constitution has clearly laid down procedures to follow in challenging election at tribunals up to supreme courts.
The action of some supporters from the opposition parties in blackmailing and threatening our judges should be highly condemned by all well-meaning Nigerians. One would wonder whether these actors and their supporters are interested in having a just system that works for all or that they are only interested in access to power by hook or crook. It is unfortunate that these actors who have also failed to learn from their previous mistakes of using economic, ethnic and religious blackmail to ascend to power have now resorted to blackmailing our justice system.
It is, therefore, critical for well-meaning Nigerians and lawyers to speak up and uphold the sanctity of our judiciary. We should be careful of the possible repercussions that will befall us as a nation if we allow such elements to rubbish and destroy the image and confidence of our judiciary through their dubiously crafted lies and blackmail.
Apart from these treacherous plans against the judiciary, some of the actors from the opposition have been secretly promoting and calling for national protest, with the aim of creating instability and worsening the socio-economic conditions of Nigerians. They are hoping to exploit the difficult economic challenges bedevilling Nigeria to rile up citizens into violent protest against the elected government. It has also emerged that some of these actors are planning to use the crisis and instability to promote military intervention, motivated by the recent military coups that sweeping across some of our neighbouring countries. This can be seen from quite a number of their supporters who are recorded on social media calling for crisis and military takeover in Nigeria. It is disheartening to see a group of retired military generals threatening the elected government of President Tinubu with coup scare by reference to happenings in other African countries.
It is vitally important for us as citizens not to allow politicians and criminals to exploit our vulnerabilities and current economic difficulties to lead us into unimaginable crisis that will bring this country on it knees. At the end of the day, it is us the citizens that will bear the consequences of the crisis. Politicians should understand in clear terms that the only option for them to seek redress is through the judicial system as laid down by our constitution. The ruling delivered by the PEPT is not a final judicial judgement regarding presidential election, thus the petitioners have a right to appeal this ruling at the Supreme Court.
It is important for Nigerians to understand that the current economic situation should not be a reason to allow politicians exploit our anger. Every well-meaning Nigerian knows that difficult decisions and changes need to be implemented about the existing economic policies particularly regarding fuel subsidies and multiple foreign exchange rates. These schemes are bedevilled by corruption with only a few individuals enriching themselves from the nation’s wealth. It is crucial that Nigerians give the current government a chance and the needed time to implement the palliative programmes and salary adjustments necessary to cushion the economic difficulties we are facing. Also, the plans by the government to direct savings from these inefficient schemes into developmental project should be highly welcome development. Even if Nigerians don’t see the benefit in the short term, the medium- and long-term economic benefits will be enormous.
This is not in any way discouraging Nigerians from speaking up. Nigerians have every right to engage in constructive criticism of government decisions and processes, but it is for Nigerians to be careful with treacherous and selfish politicians who are power hungry and are willing to go to any extent just to gain power.
•Alkali is executive director,
OCCEN – Nigeria