Labour Party has issued a subtle alert to Nigerians before Wednesday’s Presidential Election Petition Tribunal judgement. The party, whose candidate, Peter Obi, secured a third-place finish in the presidential election held on February 25, 2023, is currently disputing the election’s outcome, which saw President Bola Tinubu emerge as the victor.
In a press release issued on Tuesday and signed by Obiora Ifoh, the National Publicity Secretary, the Party expressed its concerns, stating, “It has become necessary for the Labour Party to draw the attention of the public and indeed democratic observers to some unfolding developments in the country ahead of tomorrow’s ruling of the Presidential Election Petition Court, PEPC.”
The party voiced specific concerns regarding certain statements made by former Justice of the Supreme Court of Nigeria, Justice Mary Odili, during a colloquium held last week in Abuja to commemorate the 25th anniversary of JK Gadzama’s elevation to the rank of Senior Advocate of Nigeria (SAN).
Additionally, it raised alarms about the confidence expressed by some individuals, including serving ministers and prominent legislators, regarding the likely outcome of tomorrow’s ruling, which is expected to favour the ruling party.
The Labour Party remarked, “When those who should know the importance of the sanctity of the judiciary descend to the arena of abusing it with their preemptive utterances just to show loyalty and support to their interests, we as a party see this as unfortunate and dangerous to our democratic journey as a nation.”
The party also expressed deep concern over the extensive praise heaped upon the All Progressives Congress (APC) and President Tinubu by retired Justice Odili, a distinguished jurist who reached the pinnacle of her career in Nigeria’s Supreme Court.
Given her position as “the chairperson of the body of benchers, the party believed she should be at the forefront of defending the integrity of the courts.”
Another issue that raised eyebrows, apart from the unsolicited and excessive praise for the APC and President Tinubu prior to the judgement, was the sudden decision to broadcast Thursday’s judgement proceedings.
“Also curious to every discerning mind watching the unfolding events in Nigeria since the February 25th presidential election is the fact that the PEPC, which refused live television coverage of the hearings of the petition, is now anxious to have the conclusion broadcast live,” the party said.
It was also noted that observers of Nigeria’s political landscape since the February 25th presidential election should have noted a shift in the approach of the Presidential Election Petition Court (PEPC).
Previously, the PEPC had declined live television coverage of petition hearings, but now it appears eager to broadcast the final verdict live.
The party urged Nigerians to question the rationale behind this change of heart and the sudden eagerness for televised judgement proceedings.
Furthermore, the party highlighted the disturbing trend of state agents attempting to perpetuate unrest and create problems that could tarnish the reputation of opposition political parties.
The Labour Party emphasised, “We wish to emphasise that it is the right of the people in a democracy to demonstrate, and it is the obligation of state security agents to protect both demonstrators and those not participating in demonstrations.”
The party’s National Publicity Secretary called on Nigerians to maintain calm and peace, adhere to the rule of law, and understand that the matter has not yet reached its logical and final conclusion.
It urged Nigerians to remain calm, respect the rule of law, and recognise that the matter is not yet conclusively resolved.