By Kazeem Ugbodaga
Nigeria’s former Vice President and presidential candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, in the last election, Atiku Abubakar has reacted to the Supreme Court’s judgement which nullified his appeal against the election of President Muhammadu Buhari, saying the judiciary has been sabotaged and undermined by an overreaching and dictatorial cabal.
The Supreme Court had in an unanimous judgement on Wednesday affirmed that Buhari was validly elected as Nigerian President in the 23 February presidential election.
A seven man panel of the court, headed by Justice Tanko Ibrahim Mohammed, the Chief Justice of Nigeria, also dismissed the appeal filed by the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and its presidential candidate, Atiku Abubakar, challenging the victory of Buhari at the presidential election.
Atiku, in a statement after the court’s judgment stated that “it is said that the Supreme Court is not final because it is infallible, but that it is infallible because it is final. While I believe that only God is infallible everywhere, and only Nigerians are infallible in our democracy, I must accept that the judicial route I chose to take, as a democrat, has come to a conclusion.
“Whether justice was done, is left to the Nigerian people to decide. As a democrat, I fought a good fight for the Nigerian people. I will keep on fighting for Nigeria and for democracy, and also for justice.”
He thanked all Nigerians who had stayed the course since the commencement of trial in the petition on the February 23 presidential election, saying that the judgement was part of democratic challenges “we must face as a nation.”
“The Nigerian judiciary, just like every estate of our realm, has been sabotaged and undermined by an overreaching and dictatorial cabal, who have undone almost all the democratic progress the Peoples Democratic Party and its administrations nurtured for sixteen years, up until 2015.
“Can Nigeria continue like this? Recently, former United States Assistant Secretary of State for Africa, Linda Thomas-Greenfield, averred that Nigeria had rolled back the democratic gains she made in 2015. When democracy is rolled back, the economy, the society and the judiciary will not be far behind. Today, the nail has been put on the coffin and the gains we collectively made since 1999 are evaporating, and a requiem is at hand.
“In a democracy, you need a strong judiciary, a free press and an impartial electoral umpire. Nigeria has none of those three elements as at today,” he said.
Atiku added: “One man, one woman, one youth, one vote, should be the only way to make gains in a democracy. And when that is thwarted, the clock starts to tick.
“Two and a half millennia ago, Sophocles said “If we are to keep our democracy, there must be one commandment: “Thou shalt not ration justice.” Nigeria will do well to observe this warning.”
The former vice president said to those who thought they had broken his spirit, he was sorry to disappoint them, as he was too focused on Nigeria to think about himself, adding that he gave up that luxury twenty years ago, saying that “the question is not if I am broken. The question is if Nigeria is whole?”
According to him, “This is not a time for too many words. It will suffice for me to remind Nigeria of this – we are an independent nation and we are the architects of our fate. If we do not build a free Nigeria, we may end up destroying her, and God forbid that that should be the case.I was a democrat, I am a democrat, and I will always continue to be a democrat. May God bless Nigeria.”