Tribunal: Stop arm-twisting court, CSOs warn LP, PDP

A coalition of civil society organisations, under the aegis of the Nigerian Youth Network for Good Governance and Sustainable Democracy, has accused the Peoples Democratic Party and the Labour Party of employing underhand tactics to arm-twist the Presidential Election Petition Tribunal.

In a statement released on Saturday, the coalition said the LP and PDP’s supporters’ disparaging remarks about the outcome of the election despite being at the tribunal have turned the process into a spectacle.

“While the elections produced a president, vice president, 28 state governors (minus the six states where elections are off-season), 109 senators, and 360 members of the House of Representatives, supporters of the Labour Party and the Peoples Democratic Party have been inconsolable, employing both conventional and unorthodox means to prove that the 2023 presidential election was rigged.

“At the same time, both parties have filed their respective petitions at the Presidential Election Petition Tribunal, which is currently sitting. One would have expected that as law-abiding citizens seeking to truly serve the country, the presidential candidates of the LP and PDP and their supporters would refrain from canvassing the issues raised in their petitions outside the Tribunal,” the statement reads.

The coalition also accused the Civil Society Situation Room and legal luminary, Olisa Agbakoba of inconsistencies in their assessments of the 2023 general election.

While also describing the constant attacks on the electoral umpire, the Independent National Electoral Commission, and its chairman, Prof. Mahmood Yakubu, as emotive.

“Also recently, Olisa Agbakoba, a Senior Advocate of Nigeria, in a tweet, congratulated President Bola Tinubu on winning the election but asked the President to sack the INEC chairman that conducted the election. We consider his position self-contradictory, dishonest, and patronising. You cannot congratulate a man for winning an election and then ask him to sack the person that conducted the same election.

“We also view the incessant and virulent attacks on INEC and its Chairman, Prof. Yakubu Mahmood, as condescending, emotive, subjective, and irrational. While we agree that the 2023 Presidential Election was not perfect, there is no concrete evidence to show that the INEC Chairman rigged the election in favour of the APC as alleged or broke any electoral law.

“After a careful study of the 1999 Constitution and the Electoral Act 2022, we are convinced that in declaring Bola Tinubu as President-Elect at the National Collation Centre, Prof. Mahmood only performed his statutory role and did not break any known law. On the contrary, he would have broken the law with serious consequences if he had failed to make that declaration. Thankfully, the law also gives aggrieved parties the opportunity to challenge the outcome of the election in court, which they have rightly done”, they added.

The coalition, however, urged all aggrieved parties to stop the ongoing verbal war on social media and allow the tribunal to conclude its assignment in peace.