Presidential candidate of Labour Party, Peter Obi, on Monday, slammed the Supreme Court judgment that affirmed President Bola Tinubu’s victory, saying he found the verdict contradictory and disappointing.
But in a swift response, the Presidency slammed Obi, describing him as “a copycat” who “tried, in vain, to gaslight Nigerians with false claims and innuendos.”
Obi, at a press conference in Abuja, on Monday, formally reacted to the October 26 judgment of the Supreme Court, saying he was disappointed that despite the plethora of evidence placed before the apex court, the justices chose to focus on technicality rather than substance, thereby breaching the confidence of Nigerians in the judiciary.
He said, “Setting 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. It is, therefore, with great dismay 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 be treated with levity. More appalling, the Supreme Court judgment willfully condoned breaches of the constitution relative to established qualifications and parameters for candidates in presidential elections. With this counter-intuitive judgment, 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.
“Without equivocation, this judgment 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.
The judgment mixed principles and precepts. Indeed, the rationale and premise of the Supreme Court judgment, have become clearer in the light of the deep revealing and troubling valedictory remarks by Hon. Justice Musa Dattijo Muhammad, on Friday 27th October 2023.”
He said with the outcome of the legal battle “going forward, we in the Labour Party and the Obidient Movement are now effectively in the 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.”
But reacting, the Special Adviser to the President on Information and Strategy, Bayo Onanuga, said, “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.
“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 but now he is castigating the same court because its judgment did not go his way. 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.”
Onanuga said having admitted that the Supreme Court ruling brought an end to litigation “Obi should have congratulated President Tinubu for his victory and pledged his support, in the spirit of statesmanship. Instead, he brought up extraneous matters that he thought the apex court should have considered to declare him the winner.
“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 will campaign on issues and not whip up religious and ethnic sentiments as he did in the last campaign. Our admonition to Mr. Peter Obi is to find another worthwhile vocation to engage his time henceforth, having been rejected by the majority of Nigerians who didn’t consider him qualified to lead our country.