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THE 2023 PRESIDENTIAL ELECTION JUDGEMENT: NO SURPRISE

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THE 2023 PRESIDENTIAL ELECTION JUDGEMENT: NO SURPRISE

By Ussiju Medaner

The season of election tribunal judgements has come and as duly expected by all rational elements and followers of our electoral affairs, the judiciary has once and again lived up to the expectations of many and has established itself as the unbiased beacon and defender of democracy.

What we have seen across the country is a reecho of the fact that democracy and politics are a game of rules, backed by provisions that are fixed in their disposition and interpretation.

In democracy and the game of politics, everyone is equal, having equal recognition, access and participation right within the ambient of laid down regulations; and outrightly, incapable of or rather unallowed to perpetuate flattering lies,weep up emotions and peddle ill-fabricated propaganda in the competitive space to prosper.

That much, the pronouncements of the justices of PEP have been established.

It would be a secondary matter to consider the non-acceptability of the rulings by the losing parties and their candidates; as much as it is understandable that parties and candidates that would nonetheless go to the tribunal on the back of legal irrelevances, and the mentality of concluding that the elections were rigged would not easily and readily recognise and accept the validity of a judgement that is unfavourable to them.

I am not surprised therefore, that despite the simplicity of the tribunal judgement that even laymen would understand and heal their pre-emotional biases, both the Labour Party and PDP flag bearers in the election would readily pick holes in between.

For a starter, whether all parties to the disputes accept the judgements would be secondary after the realisation of the fact that we all recognise the position of the court and the judiciary to arbitrate litigations arising from elections.

The court would forever retain its double face as seen by people for as long as there emerges winners and losers in cases brought to the House of Justice.

It is normal; our tendency to accept judgement when it is favourable is basically human.

That is the very reason why a candidate like Peter Obi,who had immensely benefited from the uprightness of the judiciary would castigate the same when he is at the receiving end.

I wrote this piece for publication a day before the Tribunal judgement, but for the reason of not wanting to be seen as preempting the judgement of the justices, I held it down.

Now, it is ripe and appropriate for public consumption.

I am going to start today’s piece by referring to the same facts I submitted immediately after the 2023 General election.

It is unfortunate and demeaning that political parties and individual losers at the election would condescend so low to weaponise fabricated falsehoods to maintain holds on their support bases in the name of contesting the presidential election at the tribunal.

I continue to find it ridiculous the grounds upon which both the candidates of PDP and LP, who came 2nd and 3rd respectively at the poll, had to contest the outcome of the presidential election.

We must know for certain that Nigeria as a country is walking on a very tightrope; so delicate that we could break at any time if we do not consciously redress our decisions to collapse the nation.

It is also obvious from the actions of the two major opposition parties that they do not care if the country burns in the aftermath of the losses at the presidential poll.

The ENDSARS of a few years back easily come back to mind. As it has been suggested by many that, it was orchestrated by political elements as a prerequisite to creating a self-profiting atmosphere against the 2023 elections, without caring about what the disturbances would do to the sanctity of the soul of the country and its overall unity. We have not yet survived the undertone of the attacks and disturbances; as we have become more divided along region identity till today and this played out effectively in the nature of campaigns and divisions that characterised the pre-election campaign, and the post-election outbursts.

The same is about to reenact itself. The opposition and their elements have gone ahead once again to weaponise their share of the population for a possible rebellion against the system after their eventual loss at the tribunal. A loss that is more than certain. In a gangster-like gang-up, we have seen what would appear to many as a coincidence but which in reality is part of an orchestrated plan to set the streets up against the system, and possibly influence the judgement at PEPT; suddenly, NLC announced a two-day warning strike coinciding with the judgment day for the presidential election dispute which eventually came to pass. As the Yoruba people would say, the witch cried yesterday and the child died today, who would not know it is the witch that killed the child. The opposition and their elements are attempting to get the people ready for an uprising after the judgment.

At the same time, they are heating up the system as they subtly invite the military to upset the system with a takeover. It is unfortunate that the same people, who till a few months ago were lovers of democracy, would suddenly wish the death of the same for the same country they want to rule democratically.

We had in March 2023 a remarkable presidential election outcome like no other in the history of Nigeria; we had an election in which the unbelievable happened and happened repeatedly. The ruling party lost in all its major strongholds to the opposition. APC lost the home state of the president, Lagos state to the Labour Party candidate; the ruling party lost Kaduna, Kano and the home state of the former President Muhammadu Buhari, Katsina to the opposition. We had an election where sitting governors contested elections and lost to unknown political elements. We had an election in FCT where a four-time serial loser won against a very formidable Philip Aduda, the candidate of PDP and the then-sitting FCT Senator. We had an election where a commercial bike rider won the Kaduna South House of Representatives seat against both the veteran candidates of the PDP and APC. These upsets were however regular and evenly distributed across the country.

Yet, the opposition, especially the Labour Party supporters would cry of election rigging. I have asked myself for an umpteenth time; if APC were to rig the election, would it be in Lagos, Kano, Kaduna and Katsina? Did the party rig to lose in Lagos and all the other mentioned states. The ruling APC went ahead to win the election despite the upsets because it was able to come second in most of these states and as a result of the division that plagued the once formidable PDP that led to the fragmentation of its votes.

Immediately after the polls, the unexpected gang-up began; the family of divided parties were seen to be attempting to reunite to fight their common foe. PDP, LP, and NNPP wanted the election process halted. What are their reasons? APC is rigging and manipulating the election, yet, LP beat the ruling party in Lagos; PDP beat the ruling party in the president’s home state of Katsina; APC lost Kano to NNPP and lost Kaduna to PDP. APC won only 12 states, PDP won 12 states, and LP also won 12 states, and yet APC according to them, was rigged to win the states it won but the elections are free and fair in states where the opposition won. What hypocrisy and crop of bad losers!

The losses became a blessing in disguise for the ruling party; APC’s loss in Lagos and all those other critical places has put to rest all election rigging conspiracy theories against the party, especially from all rational thinking persons and groups. Or how does a party perfect rigging to lose its bases and strongholds?

Before the election, we have told them that elections are not done on social media. We told them the real voters would be surfacing to vote on Election Day. They can not imagine where the APC figures came from. They assumed in their irrationality that all Nigerians are emotionally attached to their religion and tribe to the point of flying with the conspiracies they branded and sold out.

That much, both PDP and LP couldn’t have contested the facts of the election figures, by the figures, they lost and they knew that all along. Yet, they would proceed to the tribunal for reasons best known to them. What are the needless bases on which they went to the tribunal? If you had won the election, as submitted by one the the read judgement, how difficult would it be for you to provide evidence to the same effect? As a political party, you had the privilege of having agents across polling units and at your disposal form EC 8 dully acknowledged by them. That is the basis of contesting election outcomes. How could you stay away from bringing in the figures and expect the judges to do magic based on social media gyration? This is a law, not an emotional business. And then coming to judgement with frivolous trump-up allegations to rather disqualify the winner of the election without contesting the figures. And much more worrisome, energising social media to arm-twist and influence the judgement is a no for our democracy.

They claimed the President did not attend and graduated from Chicago State University as claimed. Even when the university repeatedly and with evidence has declared the president was their student and the same suit had appeared in the past in favour of the president, the opposition candidates are still triggering their supporters to await victory on the back of malicious propaganda.

They went ahead and claimed the president was convicted of a drug-related case in the USA where he forfeited some sum of money they claimed was proceeds of crime. These people intentionally altered the facts of the matter to suit their preferred rhetoric. While the U.S. document states an indictment from the accusation and allegation and not a conviction, they intentionally conclude and feed their uninformed followers with the lies they want them to run with. In the United States, when a person is indicted, it only means they will be given formal notice that they are believed to have committed a crime and therefore, an explanation will be required by way of defence. Now, even when the United States DOJ, FBI, and DEA have all cleared the president of any wrongdoing and confirmed he was never charged and convicted of any criminal acts in the U.S., they will still willfully ignore all the evidence.

Peter Obi and his party that won only one governorship race and lost woefully in all the states of North West and North East would insist he is the rightful winner of the election because he won FCT and the President did not secure 25% in FCT. Long before now, in several litigations, the Supreme Court has affirmed that FCT by law is the 37th state of the federation and that it holds no special election outcome-deciding status. Yet, they will insist FCT has more voting rights than all other states.

They also insist the president should be disqualified because his then running mate, the vice president, was not validly nominated. Yet, after courts of competent jurisdiction have declared that Shettima was adequately nominated, they would still ignore the judicial pronouncement.

Atiku Abubakar, the PDP candidate, kept insisting the result must be transmitted via iRev and BVAS for it to be legally admissible, yet we all know that the Electoral Act empowers INEC to determine the mode of result transmission as it so pleases. We all already know what the Supreme Court says about that in the Osun governorship election petition. PDP and even the Obidients celebrated the judiciary when it gave the same interpretation to hand down victory to PDP in the last Osun state governorship election litigation, but now want to reject it because it favours the ruling APC. What a double-faced game!

These were the same paperweight reasons Atiku and Obi presented before the Tribunal and have been promising their one-way supporters to expect victory at the tribunal and even at the Supreme Court. Well, these people know what they are doing; just oiling and maintaining their support bases for 2027, while the Obidients and Atiku supporters would not mind getting themselves killed defending the lies they were told.

Shouldn’t we learn from Donald Trump’s continuous fabricated lies and propaganda of election rigging in the U.S. 2020 election and the current situation of things for him and all those who were helping him to propagate the lies? Many today are already convicted and in jail, several are on their way and Trump himself has over 90 indictments and very probable convictions and jail terms in months to come.

The county has spoken. The right to appeal is fundamental. Let’s continue watching as the final ladder is climbed.

God Bless The Federal Of Nigeria!

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