Obi: S’Court’s Affirmation of Tinubu is Beginning of Our Quest for Better Nigeria

Obi: S’Court’s Affirmation of Tinubu is Beginning of Our Quest for Better Nigeria

• Says apex court exhibited disturbing aversion to public opinion in affirming Tinubu’s election

• Advocates five-year rotational presidency

•Says purchase of SUVs, yacht amid multi-dimensional poverty gross act of insensitivity   •Presidency to Obi: stop casting aspersion on Supreme Court

• Insists judicial pronouncements based on evidence, precedent, rule of law

•Accuses LP presidential candidate of running divisive, polarising, hateful campaign

•Court cases not won on public opinion, APC tells Obi

Deji Elumoye, Chuks Okocha and Adedayo Akinwale in Abuja

The presidential candidate of Labour Party (LP) at the last presidential election, Mr. Peter Obi, yesterday, reacted to the Supreme Court judgement that affirmed Mr. Bola Tinubu as President, saying having exhausted all legal and constitutional remedies available to his party, “This end is only another beginning in our quest for the vindication of the hope of the common man for a better country.”

Obi slammed the apex court, saying it set aside critical legal issues and displayed disturbing aversion to public opinion.

He later told journalists that the Tinubu government’s purchase of Sports Utility Vehicles (SUVs) for National Assembly members and planned inclusion of a yacht in the presidential fleet, at a time when majority of Nigerians faced grinding poverty, was a demonstration of gross insensitivity.

But in a swift reaction, the Presidency, yesterday, warned Obi against casting aspersion on the Supreme Court and the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) over his defeat at the February 25 presidential election by Tinubu.

The ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) also said Obi’s inability to distinguish between his warped version of public opinion and reality was his greatest undoing throughout the electioneering season.

Addressing a press conference in Abuja on the Supreme Court judgement, titled, “From Courtrooms to National Conscience:   Our Democracy is the Victim,” Obi said he was out of Nigeria on a scheduled appointment when the judgement was delivered.

He said, the apex court “set legal issues aside, the Supreme Court exhibited a disturbing aversion to public opinion just as it abandoned its responsibility as a court of law and policy”.

He explained that in disagreeing very strongly with the rulings of both the Presidential Election Petitions Court (PEPC) and the Supreme Court on the outcome of the February 25 presidential election, as declared by INEC, as democrats, who believed in the rule of law, “We recognise that the Supreme Court is the end stage of the quest for legal closure to the matter. As a party and as candidates, Datti and I have now exhausted all legal and constitutional remedies available to us.

“However, this end is only another beginning in our quest for the vindication of the hope of the common man for a better country. After all, sovereignty belongs to the people.

“If only for historical purposes, it behoves us to place our disagreement with and deep reservations about this judgement on public record.”

Obi also advocated a five-year rotational presidency to go round the six geopolitical zones, while slamming the purchase of SUVs, a yacht, as well as budgetary provisions for the office of the First Lady as gross acts of irresponsibility and insensitivity in the face of multi-dimensional poverty in Nigeria.

He stated further on the Supreme Court judgement, “It is, therefore, with great dismay that I observe that the court’s   decision contradicts   the overwhelming evidence of election   rigging, false   claim of a technical glitch, substantial non-compliance with rules set by INEC itself as well as matters of perjury, identity theft, and forgery that have been brought to light in the course of this election matter.

“These were hefty allegations that should not to be treated   with   levity. More appalling, the Supreme   Court judgement wilfully condoned breaches of the constitution relative to established qualifications and   parameters for candidates in   presidential elections.

“With   this   counter-intuitive judgement, the   Supreme   Court   has transferred a heavy moral burden from the courtrooms   to   our national conscience. Our young democracy is ultimately the main victim and casualty of the courtroom drama.”

The LP presidential candidate added, “Without equivocation, this judgement amounts to a total breach of the confidence the Nigerian people have in our judiciary. To that extent, it is a show of unreasonable force against the very Nigerian people from whom the power of the constitution derives. This Supreme Court ruling may represent the state of the law in 2023, but not the present demand for substantive justice.”

According to the former Anambra State governor, “The   judgement mixed principles and precepts. Indeed, the rationale and premise of the Supreme Court judgement have become clearer in the light of the deep revealing and troubling valedictory remarks by Hon. Justice Musa Dattijo Muhammad, (JSC) on Friday 27th October 2023.”

Speaking further, Obi said Nigerians had long been aware of how weak national institutions negatively affected democracy in the country.

“This   year, 2023, has been quite remarkable and revealing,” he said.

Obi also said INEC displayed incompetence in the discharge of its   statutory duty.

He stated, “The   judiciary   has   largely   acted   in defiance of constitutional tenets, precedents, and established ground rules.

“Political expediency has   preceded   judicial   responsibility.  A mechanical application of technicalities has superseded the pursuit of justice and fairness. Both INEC and the Supreme Court, as the referees, respectively shifted the goalposts in the middle of the game.

“Where the value and import of the recent Supreme Court ruling ends is   where   our   commitment   to   a   New   Nigeria   begins. Our mission and mandate remain unchanged. From the very onset, our mission has been more about enthroning a new Nigeria.

“It is a new nation where things work, where the country is led from its present waste and consumption orientation to a production-driven economy. Our commitment is to a nation anchored on the principles of prudent management of resources to quickly pull millions out of multidimensional   poverty, ensuring transparency and accountability in the   equitable distribution of opportunities, resources, and privileges.

“In the new Nigeria, we aim to address all unmet needs by showing compassion for all those left behind by the present system.”

Obi stressed, “We   in   the   Labour   Party   and   the   Obidient Movement are now effectively in opposition. We are glad that the nation   has   heard   us   loud   and   clear. We shall now   expand the confines of our message of hope to the rest of the country.

“We shall meet the people in the places where they feel pain and answer their needs for hope. At marketplaces, motor parks, town halls, board rooms, and university and college campuses, we all carry and deliver the message of a new Nigeria.

“As stakeholders and elected Labour Party officials, we shall remain loyal to our manifesto.

“We will continue to canvas for good governance and focus on issues that promote national interest, unity, and cohesion. We will continue to give primacy to our constitution, the rule of   law, and the protection of ordered liberties. We will offer the   checks and balances required in a functional democracy and   vie robustly in forthcoming elections to elect those who share our vision of a new Nigeria.”

Obi explained that given the present national circumstances, there was a compelling need for a strong political opposition.

He said, “We   shall, therefore,   remain in opposition, especially   because of the policies and the governance modalities   that   we   in   the   Labour   Party   campaigned   for,   especially reducing the cost of governance, moving the nation from consumption to production, reducing inflation, ending insecurity, promoting the rule of law,   guaranteeing   the   responsibility   to   protect,   and   stabilising   the Nigerian   currency;   are   clearly   not   the   priorities   of   the   present administration nor is it interested in achieving Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

“If there is one thing that has immensely gladdened my heart in the course of the struggle of the past 18 months, it is the passionate desire of our people, especially our young people from across ethnic and religious divides, to construct a new and restructured Nigeria that will work for all Nigerians. That goal remains my guiding light and abiding inspiration.”

Obi said, “I take personal pride and express gratitude to those who share our vision; and who have also exhibited rare courage to challenge the nefarious system, the genuineness of individuals’ identities and their defining and qualifying particulars up to the highest extent allowed by law.

“Nigeria holds out hope of infinite possibilities leading to our   desirable   greatness.   I   remain   consistent   in   my   belief   in   the possibility of a new Nigeria built on character competence, capacity, compassion, integrity, and respect for the rule of law based on justice and fairness.”

Fielding questions from reporters, Obi condemned the purchase of SUVs for members of National Assembly and budgetary provisions for the office of the First Lady, stating that they signify gross acts of irresponsibility and insensitivity in a time of multi-dimensional poverty among Nigerians. He said as president, he would have done things differently, because as governor of Anambra State, all official cars were Peugeot 604.

He condemned the purchase of vehicles for the office of the First Lady, saying the office has no constitutional backing.

Presidency to Obi: Stop Casting Aspersion on Supreme Court for Affirming Tinubu’s Election

The Presidency responded to Obi in a statement, titled, “Peter Obi Should Find Better Vocation Instead of Casting Aspersions on the Judiciary,” by Special Adviser to the President on Information and Strategy, Mr. Bayo Onanuga.

In the statement, the presidency advised Obi to stop blaming the apex court and the electoral body for his rejection at the poll by most Nigerians.

While emphasising that judicial pronouncements by justices were based on evidence, precedents and the rule of law, the presidency accused Obi of running a divisive, polarising and hateful presidential campaign.

It alleged that Obi was said to have failed woefully as two-time governor of Anambra State, claiming that he was rejected by most Nigerian voters at the polls for being a threat to the nation’s peace, progress and stability.

The presidency, in the release, stated, “We are at a loss as to how the copy-cat Obi and his faction of Labour Party convinced themselves they won an election in which they came a distant third.

“The grand delusion that made Mr. Obi believe he could have won a national election where he ran the most hateful, divisive and polarising campaign that pitched Christians against Muslims and one ethnic group against the other in a multi-ethnic and multi-religious society like Nigeria should be a matter for deeper examination.

“At the press conference where he tried, in vain, to gaslight Nigerians with false claims and innuendos, Mr. Obi contradicted himself.  Here was a beneficiary of judicial pronouncements in the past now castigating the same court because its judgment did not go his way.

“Mr. Obi claimed the Supreme Court justices didn’t consider public opinion in delivering what has been applauded as a most profound judgement in an election appeal where the Labour Party candidate presented the most watery and unreasonable petition before any court in the history of electoral cases in Nigeria.

“He made false allegations of rigging and other electoral malpractices yet could not produce any evidence to back up his claims at both the court of first instance and at the apex court. In a failed effort to mobilise and retain the support of his supporters, Obi gave them a forlorn hope that he won the election and would prove it before the courts. Throughout the trial, his lawyers didn’t present any alternative results different from the results INEC uploaded on the IReV portal and the ones signed by all party agents from the 176,000 polling units.”

The statement added, “We wonder how the Labour Party candidate expected the courts to do justice on the basis of rumours, lies and false narratives by sponsored partisans and fanatical members of his Obidient Movement.

“We expected the Labour Party candidate to know that the Supreme Court or any other court does not give judgment based on public opinion and mob sentiments. Judicial pronouncements are based on evidence, precedents and the rule of law.

“Having admitted that the Supreme Court ruling brought an end to litigation and any challenge to the bona-fide of President Bola Ahmed Tinubu as the validly elected leader of Nigeria and Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces, Obi should have congratulated President Tinubu for his victory and pledge his support, in the spirit of statesmanship.

“But instead, he brought up extraneous matters that he thought the apex court should have considered to declare him the winner. In our view, the drowning Obi, just like Atiku, was merely attempting to hold on to a straw in raking up new allegations, which exist only in his imagination and that of his hordes of supporters.

“Our admonition to Mr. Peter Obi is to find another worthwhile vocation to engage his time henceforth, having been rejected by majority of Nigerians who didn’t consider him qualified to lead our country.

“Nigerians rejected Peter Obi and his demagoguery at the poll because he posed present and future danger to the peace, progress and stability of our country.”

According to the presidency, “Obi’s antecedents as Governor of Anambra for eight years didn’t inspire any confidence as someone capable of running a country like Nigeria. No tangible records of achievement in the state he governed recommended him for the Presidency of Nigeria.

“If Mr. Peter Obi truly believes in Nigeria, the time to prove it is now when all men and women of goodwill are rallying support for President Tinubu in his determination to lead a new era of prosperity, inclusive governance and economic growth in Nigeria.

“Finally, we welcome Obi and his party to play the role of the opposition and start preparing for another shot at the presidency in 2027.

“We hope by then he would campaign on issues and not whip up religious and ethnic sentiments as he did in the last campaign.”

APC to Obi: Court Cases Are Not Won On Public Opinion

APC said Obi’s inability to distinguish between his distorted version of public opinion and reality had been his greatest undoing throughout the electioneering season. It said court cases were not won on public opinion, but on evidence and the law.

National Publicity Secretary of APC, Felix Morka, in a statement issued yesterday, described Obi’s reaction to the judgement of the Supreme Court, which dismissed his appeal against Tinubu, as belated and grouchy.

The ruling party said it welcomed Obi’s decision to engage in opposition politics going forward, even as it urged him and his party to do so maturely and constructively.

The APC spokesperson said Obi at his press conference again blamed the country’s democratic institutions, particularly the courts, for not awarding him victory – not because he won the election, not because he proved his case in court as required by law but because he was Obi.

Morka stated, “Mr Obi’s gross inability to distinguish between his warped version of public opinion and reality has been his greatest undoing throughout the electioneering season.

“That haughty sense of entitlement seems to pervade his vitriolic attack on our institutions.

“Taken by the mass hysteria of his vociferous netizens and fringe supporters, Mr. Obi ensconced himself in alternate reality, a parallel political universe of self-delusion.

”As someone who has previously benefited from the rulings of the Supreme Court on electoral matters, Obi’s acerbic attack on the judiciary only belies his arrogance and vainness.

“When the same courts previously decided in his favour, the courts were beacons of democracy. Now that the decisions are against him, all of a sudden, the courts have betrayed democracy.

“Mr. Obi, it cannot always be about you. It must always be about our country. Cases are not won on public opinion, they are won on evidence and the law. You failed on both counts.”

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