Presidential Petition: Atiku expresses worries over delay in naming Supreme Court justices

Former Vice President Atiku Abubakar

Former Vice President Atiku Abubakar, the Presidential Candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), has expressed worry over delay by the Supreme Court to name justices who would rule on his petition.

Atiku had following the dismissal of his petition against the election of President Muhammadu Buhari by the Justice Mohammed Garba led Presidential Election Petition Tribunal approached the apex court to nullify Buhari’s victory in the February 23, 2019, presidential poll.

The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) had announced Buhari who was the candidate of the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) winner of the poll.

“We hope that when eventually the panel is constituted there will be enough time to robustly look at the issues. We hope they will have the requisite time to do that and look at the issues. That should be the concern of everybody so that justice is not compromised. We hope that our interest and the interest of Atiku Abubakar in this matter will not be compromised on account of time. We are concerned. We are worried about it. We do not know why it is taking this long,” Atiku said in a statement through his aide, Paul Ibe, on Friday.

Speaking further he said; “the mandate we are talking about is the mandate we believe was given to him by Nigerians and Nigerians should also be concerned and worried. We are anxiously awaiting the resolution of issues that are in contention at the Supreme Court.

“I believe that the Supreme Court understands what their duties and responsibilities are in this democratic process. They should also take into consideration that people, like Atiku Abubakar, have a constitutional responsibility to contest an election that they have adjudged was not free and fair. I believe that the Supreme Court understands its role and if it does not, that should concern anybody. What is involved in this process is to strengthen our democracy.

“After the President of the Court of Appeal, Justice Zainab Bulkachuwa, had rescued herself, it took a long time to name a replacement for her.  Time was lost. Any Nigerian, not only Atiku Abubakar should be worried and ask what is holding the naming of the justices.

“Our concern is that whatever it is; let it be done within the provisions of the law. We believe that they also are taking care and due cognisance of the time that is allowed for the appeal to be heard and be disposed of with. So we want to believe that they are also conscious of the time.”

Chief Mike Ozekhome (SAN), who is also one of the senior lawyers in Atiku’s legal team, revealed that the former VP’s lawyers were worried over the delay in constituting the panel of judges to hear the petition.

“We (referring to Atiku’s lawyers) are very worried about it because election petitions are time-bound and time lined and the Supreme Court has decided that the constitutional time provided for election petitions is like the Rock of Gibraltar that cannot be moved,” Ozekhome said.

“So, I believe, therefore, that the Supreme Court is much aware of their extant decision and the sensitive nature of this case which has caught the attention of not just Nigerians but the entire world. I believe that the Supreme Court will do the needful. I have no fear of that at all.

“There is no need for any report to the National Judicial Council because the CJN will do what is right and necessary, guided by the Constitution and the Electoral Act,” he noted.

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