President Bola Ahmed Tinubu has denied allegations by the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) presidential candidate, Alhaji Atiku Abubakar, that the All Progressives Congress (APC) is planning to intimidate judges sitting on the petition challenging the outcome of the February 25 presidential election.
In a statement by Presidential Spokesman Dele Alake, Tinubu said that Atiku’s allegations were “laughable” and “jejune”. He said that Atiku had not provided any evidence to support his claims and that he was trying to discredit the judiciary.
Tinubu also said that he had a long history of supporting the independence of the judiciary and that he would never do anything to undermine it. He said he was confident the judiciary would deliver a fair and impartial ruling on the election petition.
The denial follows that of the APC. The party had denied Atiku’s allegations, calling them “arrant nonsense” and “totally lacking in substance and cogency“. The party said it had full faith and confidence in the Nigerian judiciary to dispense electoral justice.
Atiku had earlier accused the APC and its presidential candidate in the 2023 elections, Bola Tinubu, of having a history of intimidating the judiciary, citing the removal of former Chief Justice of Nigeria, Walter Onnoghen, in 2019. He also said that the APC had accused about 10 judges of corruption and stormed their homes in an attempt to intimidate them.
The APC, in a statement on Saturday evening, denied all of these allegations, saying that they were “wild, hollow, and mischievous”. The party said Atiku’s allegations were “just a childish attempt to float an alibi to deflect the shame of a highly probable defeat in court”.
The APC said that President Tinubu and the party won the election convincingly and that they have “full faith and confidence in our courts to dispense electoral justice”.
The full statement by the presidency reads:
STATE HOUSE PRESS STATEMENT
ATIKU ABUBAKAR’S BID TO BLACKMAIL THE JUDICIARY WILL FAIL
We have read the laughable and jejune statement by former Vice President and Peoples Democratic Party Presidential Candidate in the last election, Alhaji Atiku Abubakar.
It is obvious that having been thoroughly defeated by the All Progressives Congress and now President Bola Ahmed Tinubu, the former Vice President has not fully recovered from the shock of defeat, hence the current attempt to mischievously rake up another round of inanities that offend basic logic and rational thinking.
In the ill-thought out and illogical statement, Alhaji Atiku accused the current administration of the governing APC of plotting to undermine the judiciary without providing any shred of evidence. Apart from innuendos, insinuations and outright lies contained in the said press statement, the former Vice President Atiku didn’t put forward any convincing argument to support his claims on how the President Tinubu-led administration and APC sought to undercut, undermine and compromise the judiciary.
If the former Vice President believes in democracy and the sanctity of the Judiciary, as claimed, he would not engage in making spurious and wild allegations aimed at disparaging and discrediting an important arm of government that should serve as the bulwark for our democracy.
He shamelessly resorted to this cheap attempt to intimidate and blackmail the Judiciary even when he is party to a case before the Presidential Election Tribunal.
Let it be said that when it comes to matters of fighting for democracy and democratic ideals, rule of law and independence of Judiciary in Nigeria, President Bola Tinubu stands shoulder above Atiku Abubakar. When President Tinubu was leading the charge against the emasculation of the judiciary and promoting the sanctity of rule of law as the building block for good governance as Governor of Lagos State between 1999-2007, under a PDP central government, Alhaji Atiku was nowhere to be found.
It is on record and to his eternal credit that President Tinubu, through the instrumentality of the law and Judiciary, successfully challenged many of the draconian and obnoxious decisions of the PDP-led Federal Government that trampled on the rights of the states as federating units. Lagos State under the leadership of the then Governor Tinubu won over 13 cases up to the Supreme Court against the hydra-headed PDP administration at the centre.
No leader with such a sterling and enviable credential as a champion of rule of law, independence of judiciary like President Tinubu will ever contemplate undermining the Judiciary as alleged by Alhaji Atiku.
President Tinubu won a free, fair and credible election. The February 25th, 2023 Presidential election that produced him is the most transparent election ever conducted in Nigeria since 1999.
President Tinubu and the APC absolutely have no reason to undermine the judiciary in the hope of any favourable judgement.
His lawyers and that of APC have presented very solid defence of the result of the election and we are sure the judiciary will impartially deliver its ruling on the basis of points of law and evidence before it, not based on presumptuous speculations and unfounded accusations.
Atiku Abubakar should be honourable enough as a statesman to allow the Judiciary perform its sacred duty without harassment and this resort to self-help. Attempting to discredit an important institution of State for selfish political end is disingenuous, shameful and unbecoming of a former Vice President of Nigeria. This desperation must stop.
Special Adviser to the President
Special Duties, Communications & Strategy
July 22, 2023