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Pan-Ohanaeze Ndigbo socio-political group, Igbo Patriotic Forum (IPF), has called on the Chief Justice of Nigeria, Kayode Oriwoola, to be careful about swearing in politicians whose cases are before the tribunal, in the just concluded general polls.
Atiku Abubakar of the People’s Democratic Party (PDP), and Peter Obi of the Labour Party (LP), have challenged the presidential victory of All Progressives Congress (APC) candidate, Bola Ahmed Tinubu.
IPF Chairman, Simon Okeke, at a press briefing yesterday in Abuja, argued that the Judiciary should consider the interest of most Nigerians, in handling electoral petitions in order to avoid miscarriage of justice that may lead to a serious crisis in the country.
Okeke likened the current political battle to a football match in which a winner is declared when it is still on. The former chairman of Police Service Commission said: “We, therefore, call on the country’s Judiciary to consider the general interest of the millions of Nigerians, as well as the cooperate existence of Nigeria in handling these electoral petitions in order to avoid miscarriage of justice that may precipitate serious crisis in the country.
‘Since the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria 1999 (as amended) allows anyone aggrieved after the announcement by INEC of the general election result to go on appeal from the Tribunal to the Supreme court to determine the final winner of the election, it stands to reason that no one should be sworn in as the winner before the apex court pronounces who, in its opinion, is the true winner of that election.
‘Common sense requires that until the apex court pronounces who the winner is, the election is only mid-way and not over yet.
‘Consequently, swearing in anyone as the winner of that election is premature and nothing other than announcing the result of the match in the middle of the game.
‘The match ends with the apex court announcing who in its opinion is the winner of that election.
‘We, therefore, urge the President to swear in only the person adjudged by the apex court to be the winner of the election.
‘To swear in anyone when the case is still pending in the court is to prejudge the view of the apex court or to urge the court to confirm whoever is so prematurely sworn in.
‘To swear in anyone before the verdict of the apex court is indirectly urging that court to confirm the candidate already sworn in.
‘If during a football match one side strikes a ball to the goal area of the opposing side and there is a dispute as to whether or not a goal has been scored, it is only the referee who decides whether or not it is a goal.
‘No side will make a claim until the referee has given his decision as to whether in actual fact a goal has been scored or not.
‘In such a situation are we now on this disputed election as to who is the winner, Tinubu, Atiku or Obi. Until the referee (in this case the Supreme Court) gives its verdict as to who is the rightful winner, none should be sworn in except as the Court has given its verdict.
‘To swear anyone in now as the President before the apex Court gives its ruling is to defeat the spirit of the game and cause a confusion both within the judiciary and the general public.
‘Such a situation should therefore be avoided in a fragile system such as we are in today.
‘Consequently, let the court complete its job so that all should know who the true winner is and such winner will then be sworn in as the authentic President of Nigeria.