Former Vice President Atiku Abubakar has said Nigerians democracy is experiencing ill health under the rule of the All Progressives Congress (APC), adding that the ruling party has turned the once respected Nigerian judiciary to a “cash and carry.”
Atiku, who reiterated his concern that democracy in Nigeria is in a state of ill-health, said the courts are trying to deliver states controlled by the opposition to the ruling party through controversial declarations.
The former PDP presidential candidate in 2023, in a statement by his media aide, Paul Ibe, said opposition engagement is being narrowed “either through the electoral process where opposition parties are rigged out with brazen impunity, or during the post election court.”
He added, “It gets more curious that all the states where the courts have made controversial declarations are states being controlled by the opposition political parties. From Nassarawa, Kano, Zamfara and now to Plateau State, where we are witnessing a situation in which what the ruling party missed out on Election Day are being delivered to them through the courts.
“These are clearly ominous signs that threaten not just our faith in the electoral and judicial system but evincing that our democracy is compromised. It is also crystal clear that the ruling party will not desist from this inglorious ideology of ‘snatch, grab and run away with power.’
“It is even more worrisome that what is playing out now in the Plateau governorship election petition is a confirmation of the threat echoed by an APC lawmaker in a viral video that the ruling party will compromise the judicial process to ensure its ultimate victory in the courts.
“It, therefore, means that the times we are in are indeed ominous, and the journey ahead in rescuing our democracy from these buccaneering power grabbers is a long one. It also means that every man and woman of good conscience should come together for this common patriotic purpose.”
Atiku however said he is surprised by what is going on, noting that in Lagos State where President Bola Tinubu “holds sway as godfather, opposition became an anathema. Everyone, including judges, was forced to join his party.”
He recalled that few opposition members who managed to get elected were beaten to submission, including at the Lagos State House of Assembly where the sole PDP member back in 2018 was suspended and arrested for gun running but mysteriously had the charges dropped immediately after he defected to the APC.
“Recently, the Asset Management Corporation of Nigeria (AMCON) withdrew a N135bn lawsuit it had instituted against an opposition senator from Anambra State less than 24 hours after he defected to the ruling party.
These are the crude methods that Bola Tinubu has employed in order to reduce the ranks of the opposition and consolidate his hold on power.
“Is it not mysterious that it was the same panel that sat and heard all the election petition cases from Plateau State before the Court of Appeal? How is it that in election cases where the PDP came first and the APC came second, the court ordered that the APC be declared winner while in elections where the PDP came first and Labour Party came second, the courts ordered a rerun in order to give the APC a chance of victory?
“As Justice Dattijo Muhammad said in his valedictory speech which has also been buttressed by Olumide Akpata, the immediate past President of the Nigerian Bar Association, the judgments emanating from courts in recent times have been questionable and show obvious compromise.
“As Mr. Femi Falana (SAN) put it recently, the judiciary under military dictatorship was much more courageous and had better integrity than what we have today.
“It is obvious that the APC has turned the once respected Nigerian judiciary to a “cash and carry” one where politicians who don’t participate in primaries are named as candidates while actual winners of elections are sacked for flimsy reasons. They simply deliver judgments but not justice.
“Apart from the judiciary, Tinubu has already appointed his loyalists as Resident Electoral Commissioners who have now been confirmed by Sen. Godswill Akpabio, his lackey who is supposed to be heading an independent arm of government. This is how the APC plans to impose a one-party state on Nigerians.
“Eternal vigilance remains the watch word if Nigeria’s democracy will survive the APC onslaught on our democracy and the institutions that are supposed to check the excesses of the ruling party.”