…CSOs, CUPP Want Senior Supreme Court Justices To Hear PDP’s Appeal
Former Vice President and candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in the February 23 presidential election, Atiku Abubakar, has declared that the drive towards the restoration of full blown democracy as well as recapturing Nigeria from the forces of fascism remained his avowed commitment.
He also said his struggle to ensure the return of Nigeria to the path of rule of law where votes count was a sure way of moving Nigeria towards justice, peace, unity and progress.
This is just as a coalition of Civil Society Organisations (CSOs) under the auspices of the Nigeria Centre for Justice and Rule of Law (NCJRL), urged the Chief Justice of Nigeria, Justice Ibrahim Tanko Muhammad, to ensure that only senior Justices of the Supreme Court would be appointed to handle the appeal of the PDP and its presidential candidate.
The group cautioned against recruitment of new Supreme Court Justices as members of the appeal panel.
In a message of gratitude to Nigerians for their solidarity so far, yesterday, Atiku noted that “nothing good comes easy,” adding that “as hard as the task to rid Nigeria from the forces of fascism and be an instrument for the full restoration of the rule of law and democracy in Nigeria is concerned, your support makes the struggle worthwhile.”
Atiku said further: “I owe so much to this great land of Nigeria that took me from the streets of Jada, where I sold firewood, to the heights I have attained, by God’s benevolence, in the civil service, in corporate Nigeria and in public service.”
“If I do not play my part in making it possible for other orphaned children, indigent youths and the less privileged to replicate and even surpass my path to significance, I would have failed my Maker. If I do not ensure that the ladder I climbed remains accessible to those at the bottom, middle and top tiers of society, I would not have fulfilled my purpose.
“It is only by ensuring that democracy is not just done, but seen to be done, can Nigeria and Nigerians have a sense that this our dear land is indeed a land where Unity, Faith, Peace and Progress reside.
“It is for this and other patriotic reasons that I am pursuing this judicial route: To ensure that the votes of Nigerians count and are counted.
“Yes, those who do not want this as Nigeria’s reality will use every trick in the book to undermine, discourage, misinform and mislead, but with God’s help and the support of Nigerians, we will ensure that Nigeria makes a course correction away from tyranny and towards democracy.”
Tasking Nigerians to be committed to the task of restoring the good old image of Nigeria, Atiku added: “We must return to being Africa’s bastion of democracy, where the rights to freedom of speech and freedom after the speech, are guaranteed. We must stand together to pursue this just cause all the way, so that our judiciary are not afraid to do their jobs and have to be wary of blackmail, intimidation and victimisation.”
The CSOs seeking the appointment of senior Supreme Court Justices to hear Atiku’s appeal, led by James Adeoye, said the appointment of new justices of the Supreme Court to handle the appeal would deviate from the known tradition where the panel that hears presidential election petitions in the Supreme Court is often made up of seven most senior judges in the apex court.
Similarly, the Coalition of United Political Parties (CUPP), claimed that the names of the new Supreme Court Justices was already being submitted to the Senate for confirmation ahead of the establishment of the Appeal Panel by the apex court.
At a separate press briefing in Abuja yesterday, CUPP’s spokesman, Ikenga Ugochiyere, claimed that “the tradition in the Supreme Court has been that the seven most senior justices of the Supreme Court are empanelled to determine the Presidential Election Appeal.”