Constitutional implications of Atiku, Obi heading to Supreme Court


By Haruna Salami

The decision of Alhaji Atiku Abubakar, candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and Mr. Peter Obi, candidate of the Labour Party in the February 25, 2023 presidential election to appeal the ruling of the Presidential Election Petition Court shows that the war is not yet uhuru for President Bola Ahmed Tinubu and the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC).

Former Vice President Atiku Abubakar said although he respects the judgement of the PEPT, he refuses to accept it because, “it lacks justice”.

He stated this at a press conference held at the PDP National Secretariat in Abuja on Thursday.

Pursuing election cases to Supreme Court has been the course of action for all the presidential elections in Nigeria since 1999 when the nation returned to democratic rule except in 2015 election which former president Goodluck Jonathan did not approach the court.

Approaching the Supreme Court is a legitimate right of the appellants who are dissatisfied the ruling of the Appeal Court with the possibility of getting reprieve or otherwise at the apex court. Aside this, pursuing cases at the Apex Court, always casts a new beam of light on the provisions of the Constitution as the position of the highest court becomes the norm.

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Former Senator representing Kaduna Central, Shehu Sani in his reaction to the decision of the duo to approach the apex court said “the Tribunal is the first half of the match, the Supreme Court is the second half of the match.”

He said “those who lost in the first half may win in the second half. Even the act of going to court and not calling for violence, like 2011, is itself a patriotic act that deserves appreciation”.

Sani’s reference to calling for violence in 2011 apparently referred to popular statement that “the dogs and the baboons will be soaked in blood” allegedly made by former President Mahammadu Buhari during his third futile shot at presidency in 2011.

There is also the financial implication on the two parties, their candidates and even the ruling party All Progress Congress (APC) and Tinubu as all of them will engage lawyers again.

An Abuja resident who simply identified himself as Ugochukwu, an APC ardent supporter did not see anything coming out of the appeal at the Supreme Court.

According to him, the opposition parties didn’t work hard to win the 2023 presidential election because the PDP was fighting itself while “Peter Obi was not known in the northern part of the”, adding that one needs other parts to win presidential election.

In 2003, then President Olusegun Obasanjo of the PDP and Muhammadu Buhari of the Congress for Progressive Change (CPC) slugged it out up to the Supreme Court and Buhari lost to Obasanjo.

The same scenario played out between the late President Umar Yar’adua of the PDP and Buhari in 2007 and Buhari again lost to Yar’adua at the Supreme Court.

Not done, Buhari again ran in 2011, this time against former President Goodluck Jonathan of the PDP and Buhari lost to Jonathan at the Supreme Court for the third time.

It is on record that in Nigeria, from the time of Alhaji Shehu Shagari of the National Party of Nigeria (NPN) versus Chief Obafemi Awolowo of the Unity Party of Nigeria (UPN) in 1979, no presidential election results have been overturned by the court. Could this be the first change Nigerians yearn for?

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