Alex Enumah in Abuja
In an unusual statement yesterday, the Supreme Court joined issues with the Coalition of United Political Parties (CUPP), saying its serial attacks on the apex court over the appeal filed by the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and its presidential candidate in the last election, Alhaji Atiku Abubakar, would not deter it from performing its arbitration function without fear or favour.
“The Supreme Court, and by extension, the Judiciary, is an independent arm of government that can never be intimidated or dictated to by anybody,” it said in a statement by its spokesman, Mr. Festus Akande.
The apex court was expressing its displeasure with what it called the “campaign of calumny” being waged against it by CUPP, through one Imo Ugochinyere, and asked the organisation to apply the brakes forthwith.
The court said being an independent body peopled by diligent minds, it remains focused on its goal of always ensuring justice irrespective of the individuals behind any case.
The statement read: “In the light of the blatant falsehood, misinformation and malicious rumour being generously peddled by the Coalition of United Political Parties (CUPP) through its spokesman, Imo Ugochinyere, we wish to state clearly that the association is not and can never constitute itself into an agency of the Nigerian Judiciary or assume the role of an alternate Supreme Court of Nigeria.
“We have been watching rather cautiously the drama of the absurd being exhibited on daily basis by this association, which sadly debases our collective morality and sense of decency as people from a civilized and well cultured society like Nigeria.
“Sensitive issues like the presidential election appeal should not, in all honesty, be taken to the altar of frivolous drama and misguided oration that is displayed on the screen of our national television with reckless abandon by people who ought to be some sort of role model to the younger generation.
“It will be recalled that even weeks before the presidential election appeal was filed at the Supreme Court, the CUPP had already, in its characteristic manner, constituted its own ‘panel’ for the Supreme Court and aggressively brandished the list on television and newspapers.
“Shortly afterwards, when the appeal was eventually filed at the court, the coalition came out once again with another imaginary list of panel members and followed it with yet another malicious allegation against the Chief Justice of Nigeria of ‘handpicking’ them in contrast to the ’tradition’ of selecting the most senior justices of the court.
“Let it be known that the Supreme Court is not an assemblage of individuals with no defined purpose, vision and modus operandi.
“Our operations are strictly guided by the Constitution and extant laws. We are not an appendage of any individual or group of people, and we don’t pander to the dictates of anybody or association.
“The Supreme Court, and by extension, the Judiciary, is an independent arm of government that can never be intimidated or dictated to by anybody.
“The CUPP’s action only amounts to naming a baby before it is born. We should be mindful of our utterances to avoid inflicting a devastating harm on the nation.
“This exhibition of unbridled utterances and prevarication will only endanger the progress and cohesiveness of our country.
“The Supreme Court has been entertaining presidential election appeals over the decades, but the unnecessary hysteria and superlative drama being woven around this particular one calls for caution and moderation.
“The constitution of any panel to sit on a matter in the court is the sole prerogative of the Supreme Court and it is never an issue for the court to debate on the television or pages of newspapers.
“We are not a political party or social club and should never be dragged into any form of baseless pedestrian discussions that will drive valid reasoning aground. Enough of this orchestrated falsehood and campaign of calumny.
“We are here to serve the interest of the generality of the Nigerian masses and not a select individuals or groups with inordinate ambition.
“As soon as the presidential appeal panel is constituted, the public will be duly informed as Supreme Court is not a secret society. Let us always observe caution when disseminating information to the public.”