It is a two-round contest and the first round ended on a high note yesterday at the Presidential Election Petitions Court (PEPC). Before their Lordships or sages, if you like, were three petitions. Of the three, two were well known to the public. Little or no attention was paid to the third case, brought by the Allied Peoples Movement (APM). The APM case was the first to be thrown out by the PEPC. The decision signalled what was to follow in the other petitions, which were full of sound and fury, signifying nothing.
The noise was calculated and deliberate. It was deployed as a trick to make the court bend to the will of the petitioners – Peter Obi of the Labour Party (LP) and Atiku Abubakar of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP). The noise was more than the proof, if there was really any, at the disposal of the petitioners. They relied more on making wild allegations and throwing dirt at the court, the electoral umpire and Asiwaju Bola Tinubu, the now reconfirmed winner of the February 25 presidential poll.
There was nothing anybody could do or say to convince these petitioners and their bunch of noisemakers, some were actually hired for the job, to let peace reign while the proceedings lasted. If they had restricted their muckraking to President Tinubu, watchers might have seen it all as politics, but dragging their Lordships into it for no other reason than that they had a job to do, was carrying their sacrifice beyond the worship place. Before yesterday’s judgment, they had gone to town again, claiming that it was being drafted by some hired hands. That was how low they were ready to go in order to force the Justices to see things their way.
Their Lordships saw through the shenanigan in their well-considered verdict, which coincided with the celebration of the present administration’s 100 days in office. For Atiku and Obi, their next line of action is to open a new front in the campaigns of calumny against the Justices. This is what they were preparing the ground for with all the noises they were making while the nation was waiting earnestly for the verdict. Atiku, especially knew that he had a bad case, which was why he went on a voyage of discovery for what he thought was further and better evidence long after judgment had been reserved. Only he and his lawyers can say what evidence he wanted to bring to court after closing his case.
The status of Abuja had never been in doubt since the return to democracy in 1999 and a series of elections thereafter, until this year’s polls. It was a row orchestrated by lawyers, who wittingly took the wrong position on an issue in which they should have stood for and by the law.
Their motive was self-serving. They wanted Obi to win at all costs and were ready to use everything in their arsenal to help his cause. They should wait for the next election for their man to try his luck again. The PEPC discharged itself well in the handling of the three petitions. Its reasoning on Abuja is refreshing. ‘’Abuja is equal to every other state in Nigeria. FCT Abuja does not attract special status and it is not more important than any other state in Nigeria’’, the court held. On the claims that they (Obi and LP) scored majority of the votes cast, the court’s conclusion was damning: ‘’But, they failed to state the number of lawful votes they scored. The determination of an election is about figures”.
Truly, election is a game of numbers. It is either you have them or you do not. Therefore, you cannot lay claim to what you do not have. If you make such claims, you must show proof and Obi failed to tender the needed evidence. The court sitting as a tribunal has done its job. It is another matter whether or not some people are happy. It is not the tribunal’s job to make them happy; its duty is to dispense justice without fear or favour; affection or ill-will, even if heavens fall. Those not satisfied know what to do next. They should not cry wolf where there is none. They should find their way to the Supreme Court. But, you will be shocked by their reactions to this well-considered verdict!
Wait, you will soon hear them call the Justices name and rubbish the verdict, using some handpicked lawyers. They have prepared the ground well enough for that. As for me, I will not be surprised by the bile they will spew forth.