On Monday, President Asiwaju Bola Tinubu cautioned against arbitrary court orders aimed at truncating Nigeria’s democracy.
Mr Tinubu, in his first Democracy Day speech as Nigeria’s 16th president, said, “It has become imperative to state here that the unnecessary, illegal orders used to truncate or abridge democracy will no longer be tolerated.”
The president described Moshood Abiola, the winner of the annulled 12 June 1993 presidential election, as the “symbol of democracy.”
Former Nigerian military dictator, Ibrahim Babangida, aborted Mr Abiola’s victory on the strength of a court order that nullified the election – a process that many citizens described as the “fairest and freest” in the history of Nigeria’s democracy.
“The abortion, by military fiat, of the decisive victory of Chief Moshood Kashimawo Olawale Abiola of the defunct Social Democratic Party (SDP) in the June 12, 1993, presidential election, up to that time, the fairest and freest election in the country’s political evolution, turned out, ironically, to be the seed that germinated into the prolonged struggle that gave birth to the democracy we currently enjoy since 1999,” Tinubu said.
He said Nigerians resisted Mr Babangida’s arbitrary annulment of the polls through their “fierce commitment to enthroning democracy as a form of government.”
Speaking on disputes that often trail Nigeria’s electioneering, Mr Tinubu, whose victory in the 25 February presidential election is still being contested in court, said: “Those who cannot endure and accept the pain of defeat in elections do not deserve the joy of victory when it is their turn to triumph.”
Atiku Abubakar of the Peoples Democratic Party and Labour Party’s presidential candidate, Peter Obi, are challenging Mr Tinubu’s victory at the Presidential Election Petition Court in Abuja.
The president said participants at the recent elections who were dissatisfied with the outcomes “are taking full advantage of the constitutional provisions to seek redress in court, and that is one of the reasons why democracy is still the best form of government invented by man.”
He said the judiciary must be trusted to deliver justice, adding that he recently harmonised the retirement age for judicial officers in the country.
The president explained that the move was “meant to strengthen the rule of law, which is a critical pillar of democracy.”
In the build-up to Mr Tinubu’s inauguration on 29 May as Nigeria’s president, several lawsuits were instituted to stop his swearing-in.
In one of the suits filed by the PDP, the Supreme Court on 26 May, 74 hours before Mr Tinubu’s inauguration, cleared the coast for the great day.
The case had journeyed from the Federal High Court in Abuja through the Court of Appeal before terminating at the apex court, where the PDP urged the courts to stop Mr Tinubu from being sworn-in on account of the double nomination of Kashim Shettima as the president’s running mate.
Similarly, two other suits were filed at the Federal High Court in Abuja to truncate Mr Tinubu’s inauguration, but the court dismissed them.
The court imposed monetary fines on the lawyers who filed the suits for being frivolous.Follow us on social media