The Coalition of United Political Partes, CUPP, has raised a fresh alarm over alleged ongoing plot by the government of President Muhammadu Buhari to alter and jettison the age-long tradition of selecting the 7 most senior Justices as members of the Presidential Election Petition Appeal.
CUPP vowed to reject any move to handpick Justices to seat on Atiku Abubakar’s appeal in violation of the tradition of picking the most senior justices.
The Coalition said it will not have confidence in a handpicked panel of Justices to hear Atiku’s appeal.
In a press conference in Abuja on Thursday, CUPP National Publicity Secretary, Ikenga Imo Ugochinyere, said “As you are already aware, the opposition consensus candidate Alhaji Atiku Abubakar has approached the Supreme Court of Nigeria to appeal the controversial and unpopular judgment of the Court of Appeal which dismissed his Petition.
“By the provisions of the 4th alteration of the 1999 constitution as amended, the Supreme Court of Nigeria has 60 days from the date of the filing of the Notice of Appeal. These processes have kick-started and everyone is awaiting the composition of the names of the 7 man panel by the Chief Justice of Nigeria.
“We have it on good authority that the All Progressives Congress APC-led Federal govt has been mounting undue pressure on the Chief Justice of the Federation and indeed the entire court to accept a handpicked panel and jettison the age-long tradition of the Court of selecting the most senior justices of the Supreme Court to sit on the panel.
“The disquiet and bad blood caused by the APC in the Supreme Court now is a clear desecration of the highest temple of justice in the land. The opposition and most Nigerians will not accept a handpicked panel neither will the pronouncement of such panel command the requite respect and confidence of the people of Nigeria and we in the opposition.
“Gentlemen, the Supreme Court is for the people, the last hope of the judiciary. The actions of the Supreme Court must inspire national confidence and deliver not just judgment but justice and that path to justice is not only about the law but about the ordinary man believing that justice has been done.
“The Supreme Court is Supreme and its words must be for the protection of the society and the people and the law. A grave error was done at Appeal Court and the nation is waiting to see how a man who violated the Electoral Act and was supposed to have been disqualified managed to survive at the Appeal Court. That Court failed in both the issues of law and issues of national interest.
“Today, corruption has been permeated in the highest levels of the Presidency, today Nigeria is indebted more than ever before, today suffering citizens are being taxed to death, today there is a craze to generate revenue even at the risk of stripping citizens of their minimal purchasing power which has almost lost all its value due to mismanagement by this incompetent administration.
“Today, public funds are spent without appropriation and proper accountability. Today they have increased VAT to 7.2%. Today they tax citizens to deposit their money in banks; today they tax citizens for withdrawal of their money. Today they ask citizens to pay stamp duty and the money is not accounted for.
“Today citizens pay increased electricity tariff with no reciprocal electricity supply. Today they have borrowed money both locally and internationally more than any other government in our history yet they cannot pay workers minimum wage. Beyond these obnoxious policies, citizens are daily denied their basic right to freedom of expression.
“The Government has failed in its basic duty which is the protection of lives and property. Today all parts of the country are insecure with bandits and terrorist raping and destroying.
“The economy is bad because the leader has no capacity to govern and has surrendered his functions to unelected people. Citizens are charged to Court for terrorism for merely speaking out against this misrule, while his supporters are asking for 3rd term and working assiduously to achieve such unconstitutional ambition.
“This administration failed on electoral reform, it failed on security, it failed on economy, it failed on the fight against corruption, it has failed to make any worthy investment in the health sector, it has failed to record any success in education, foreign investments is lower than it used to be and Nigeria is daily sinking deeper into the poverty gully and our once growing economy is now the center of poverty in the world.
“The judiciary is daily being emasculated. Judges are petitioned against if they rule against Government interest, this attack on judges was carried out to silence the judiciary and use it as a clearinghouse. Disobedience to lawful orders of the court by the government is now the order of the day.
“The way out is in the hands of the Supreme Court justices who will be called upon to rule in the interest of the law, National Interest, unification and enthronement of a competent leadership and that journey starts with the composition of the membership of the presidential election appeal panel that will hear Atiku’s Appeal at the Supreme court.
“We are back on this matter because we have received reinforced intelligence that the age-long tradition of the composition of a panel made of up of experienced justices based on their seniority is about to be breached. This complaint is a painful road we would have avoided for the image of the Supreme Court but knowing the desperation of the people and their hate for decency and order we cannot keep quiet knowing they regard the people with disdain.
“We hereby alert the nation once again and in a loud voice that there is still ongoing plot engineered and being pushed by allies of the ruling APC who know that it will be difficult if not impossible in law for the president to escape a fair and neutral adjudication of the Appeal without consequences and hence the desperation to breach the age-long tradition of most senior justices sitting in the appeal at the Supreme Court.
“Let us say it here, all the justices of the Supreme Court are eminently qualified but in view of the trying times where lawlessness and breach of procedure are now common and with rampaging power mongers willing to capture all state institutions of governance in a bid to sustain a tainted presidential mandate, the opposition rejects and will not support any move to tamper with the age-long order of seniority which have been in practice since 1979 till date and used in selecting most senior justices of supreme court who sits on election dispute panels at the supreme court.
“We said these knowing that we were all here when we screamed few days to the election about the military-styled forceful removal of the former Chief Justice of Nigeria and installation of another against express orders of Court that restrained him and that it was for a day like this. The Buhari APC knew that it will rig the election and worked ahead to attempt to destabilize and intimidate our courts.
“The opposition wants this age-long tradition of composing presidential election dispute panel in order of seniority maintained because we do not trust the altering of the seniority list under a Buhari led APC Federal Government. They and some institutions have not earned our trust in this dispute to reclaim our mandate.
“The opposition is calling on Nigerians and all lovers of democracy and freedom; If you are sleeping, WAKE UP! If you are eating, STOP! The time to stand again at the barricade to save Nigeria is now. If they destroy the confidence we have in our Supreme Court in a bid to keep a nonperforming leader in office, our nation is finished and we must stand up and speak out before we are all consumed.”