Tribunal: Blackmail is a tool, not law By KASSIM AFEGBUA

President Bola Ahmed Tinubu
President Bola Ahmed Tinubu

After the 25 February 2023 Presidential election, I flashed back to the shape of things to come; remembering how politicians usually behave when their marabouts had told them victory would be theirs and it all came to nothing. I knew that the traditional and perennial aspirants and candidates would invoke the services of more marabouts to patronize them in applying their trade to ensure that they cross the line of victory, in a bid to ending perennial aspiration. Added to the services of the traditional marabouts was what the role of another pseudo set, called Opinion Polls Organisations, otherwise known as Pollsters. The assurances they gave some of the presidential candidates were dumbfounding and audacious; with their unscientific data, and positions gleaned from a very small research population, and I dont know what else. They came up with bogus predictions that fanned the desires of their preferred candidate. In the build up to the last presidential election, too many pollsters predicted victory for Atiku Abubakar of the Peoples’ Democratic Party, PDP, and some others even for Peter Obi of the Labour Party, LP. Going by the pollsters, the two candidates saw the election exercise as just a formality. Peter Obi, who saw himself as the doyen of the youth population, already saw himself as the incoming president without a doubt since February. The pollsters were churning out predictions, one after the other like soothsayers and marabouts often do; gulling him to overlook the much needed exercise of understudying the scientific and empirical bases of their researches so as to cleverly allot credit or not to their verdict.

 

Some of the pollsters relied on Peter Obi’s popularity in the South and fore saw that he would at least score 25 percent in the Northern states. These were pollsters that did not even move from one spot; not even from their office locations. They were to say the least, most deceitful. Their position was further attenuated by the negative media which they hurled at the candidate of the All Progressives’ Congress, APC, Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu; some media houses made it an editorial policy to maul the APC candidate with the hope that they would derail and distract his presidential project; but like an old war horse who understands that all publicity in a campaign season is publicity by other means, he remained focused on his campaigns, addressing his target audience, and demographics were well captured. In the final count, he emerged victorious and has since assumed duty as the 16th President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria. He defeated both the traditional candidate, and the “new kid on the block”; poohpoohing on all the make-belief predictions. Both Atiku Abubakar and Peter Obi had to share opposition votes because of sheer ego and poor spirit of sportsmanship. If they were smarter, they would have contested as one formidable team, and the story would perhaps have been different. I was particularly happy though that the marabouts didn’t see that unity as a fortress. The pollsters didn’t either. The G-5 also took their pound of flesh from a candidate that already saw and paraded himself as the incoming. That is often the temperament of power; always leading anyone with an ego to their fait accompli; conspiracy still rules!

 

Once the elections were over, as expected, the pollsters recoiled into their dubious shells to shift the battleground to the courtrooms, and the Tribunals, with the hope of scoring themselves high marks in an already failed examination. “Man must wack” lawyers now assume the role of marabouts and pollsters, saying things like, “you have fertile and ample opportunity to win this case.” Peter Obi’s Lawyers have assured him, citing humongous evidence they can use to invalidate the election results. Atiku Abubakar’s lawyers also have done same, telling him he’s one inch to the Villa. “Our evidence and witnesses would deal a huge blow to Tinubu’s claim of victory,” is their latest kind of line. The case started, and both petitioners have developed cold feet. The PDP candidate promised to supply one hundred and fifty witnesses to saturate the Tribunal with reasons why he should be declared winner. The Labour Party candidate also assured us of bringing one hundred witnesses that would give vent to his claim to victory. Mid game, the Tribunal had to resort to adjourning sittings because the petitioners couldn’t supply their so-called witnesses. In the end, the Labour Party presented only thirteen witnesses to speak to the outcome of elections in the 176,974 polling units across the country; how ethereal. The PDP also, during their sessions presented only twenty three witnesses to speak to their claim of fraud and prayed the tribunal to invalidate Asiwaju Tinubu’s victory. They even abandoned the real crux of the matter before the Tribunal and started fishing in pre-election waters. They tried much as they could to get poop to hit the fan.

 

Now the latest: their latest stock in trade is to forcefully deploy blackmail to whip the Justices to their side. Law will always be law. When parties/ petitioners are unable to argue their cases, present copious evidence to back their arguments, and or resort to cheap blackmail, the real intention manifests; so glaringly. The Justices at the tribunal will base their judgment on the facts before the Tribunal, not the sentiments. Nigerians are watching. The Tribunal presented ample opportunity for the petitioners to prove their cases, and they assured the tribunal that they would supply X number of witnesses. If they ended up unable to furnish what they boasted about, that’s their own funeral. Seeming backed up to the wall, blackmail has become their ultimate elixir. With one press statement after another, they have increased the tempo of their engagements in the media, to drag the Judges into public scrutiny, in order to armtwist these public servants. They couldn’t provide water tight arguments to validate their claim to victory, and are now window shopping for compromising evidence and possible blackmail nuggets to employ in their trade. They are losers; sore losers. That the only name people who had all the time in this world to furnish the tribunal with SUBSTANTIAL evidence that would help the public see the meat in their cases, but abandoned ship for blackmail can be known as. The truth of the matter is that, even opposition politicians, the G- 5 facilitated at the victory of Asiwaju Tinubu. The very inability of the opposition to present one unity ticket in Atiku and Obi, and the lack of the necessary spread of their votes also marred their races. Even their fundamentals and take- off points were faulty; Atiku anchored his campaign on a muslim-north agenda, while Obi anchored his on a Christian-South agenda; but Tinubu anchored his, on a Pan-Nigeria agenda.

Before long, the Tribunal will deliver its judgment; following the arguments we already know the outcome; because, having listened to the arguments, there was no SUBSTANTIAL evidence provided, to SUBSTANTIALLY affect the current outcome of the election. Publishing the profiles of the Judges in one of Nigeria’s daily newspaper won’t harm or invalidate the election results. The mere fact that Peter Obi was not a registered member of the Labour Party at the time when he contested in the primaries, is enough grounds to dismiss his petition. The Law provides that a political party shall sponsor a candidate for election and such candidate must be her registered member. Peter Obi deliberately wasted the time of the tribunal, knowing full well that he contested two primaries: PDP and LP; having not been a registered member of the latter party and should be penalized for it. The Atiku camp and its associates, I am told, are already singing the song of re-run as if the judgment has been leaked to them. Each time one meets any Atiku loyalist, I find that they now punctuate their speeches with “re-run.” Sadly, they have not come to the irrevocable realization that the last election has been won and lost. They are still agonising the loss in a manner that exposes the petitioners as bad losers. The Courts cannot assume the role of electoral officers, they can only give judgements based on the evidence presented before them. Today, there is no evidence that a handful of witnesses can give to invalidate SUBSTANTIALLY, what took place in 176, 974 polling units. I am wondering how the Labour Party that was unable to provide polling agents to cover the 176,974 polling units can be shouting “blue murder”about the conduct of the election; even after being so grossly irresponsible?

 

The 2023 election Tribunal should be settled and done with, to allow President Tinubu to concentrate on the huge tasks and challenges he inherited. He needs more than tact, dedication and diplomacy to serve Nigerians in the face of the great task of providing solutions to tackle the gargantuan challenges before him. Obi, Atiku and other presidential candidates should rally round the President and proffer solutions, if they have any, to compliment the efforts of the President. Their main interest should be the ability to make life better for all Nigerians; especially those in pursuit of their legitimate aspirations. In an election, only one man or woman is expected to win. When two candidates are laying claim to being victorious in one election, it goes to show their political greed and avarice anchored on egocentric and self-serving grandeur. Rather than resorting to a ploy to blackmail, to armtwist the Judges in the Tribunal, the petitioners should accept their fate. President Tinubu has been chosen by Nigerians, and ordained by God to preside over Nigeria for the next four years. No amount of underhandedness can take away his victory. Let that thinking be dismissed.

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