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Presidential Tribunal: Activists protest in Abuja, warn against ‘unfair’ verdict

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.As CJN Ariwoola beefs up tribunals with 39 more judges


The judicial arm of government should consider national interest while delivering judgment at the Presidential Election Petition Tribunal, a human rights movement championing the cause for equity and transparency under the aegis of Good Governance for Better Nigeria, said on Thursday.


While stressing the need for the tribunal to give all political parties a fair hearing, the organization warned that an “unfair” verdict might not augur well for the country because “it is a new dawn” for Nigeria.


The Convener of GGBN and human rights activist, Dr Abayomi Runsewe, stated these when he led over 300 members in a peaceful protest in Abuja.


He called on the judiciary to consider the cases based on merit so that after the judgement, some groups will not feel cheated.


The protesters who held placards with inscriptions such as “Your Judgment will either make or destroy Nigeria”, Save our children’s future”, and “Let’s give fair judgment a chance”, among others chanted slogans advocating for justice and transparency in the legal process at the tribunal


Although Asiwaju Bola Tinubu of the ruling All Progressives Congress was declared the winner of the February 25 presidential election, his victory is being challenged at the tribunal by some parties and their candidates.


Runsewe, however, claimed that the GGBN does not support any political party but stands in solidarity with the people of Nigeria in defence of justice and good governance.



According to him, the organisation was not against the inauguration of the President-elect on May 29.


He said, “Today, we are concerned about the state of the nation, but we don’t want to be on one side, we are concerned about Nigeria. Our message today is to the judiciary and the law enforcement agency.


“We are urging the judiciary to listen to both sides of the coin, we want them to consider the cases on their merit, we want justice to be based on merit so that after the judgement we will not go back again into violence or other form of separation or some people feel marginalised.


“We want to raise a new consciousness in Nigeria, we want an egalitarian society, a Nigeria that is pragmatic in nature, where things are judged on merit and we are urging the judiciary to be above board.


“So, we are urging the judiciary today to be fair to all sides and give a good verdict. We are talking about the Presidential Election Tribunal, we are concerned that it is a new dawn, we don’t want things that will be as usual, we want a new Nigeria and we believe that the judiciary is going to be up to the task and give a good judgement.”


Meanwhile, The Chief Justice of Nigeria, Justice Olukayode Ariwoola on Thursday swore in 39 additional judges to man the election petition tribunals currently sitting across the federation.


The CJN, during the ceremony which took place at the Supreme Court, said the judges were found worthy to be appointed as additional members of tribunals that have been saddled with an “avalanche of petitions” trailing the 2023 general election.


Administering the oath on the newly appointed election petition tribunal judges, the CJN, instructed them to live above board and to submit to the sanctity of the rule of law in the discharge of their judicial functions.



Stressing that the country needs peace “at this crucial phase”, he admonished them not to allow sentiment and public opinion to betray their sense of judgment.


He said, “You have just taken an oath that has not only imposed a course of upright moral undertaking on you but equally looped you with destiny.


“This is an enormous national assignment that will literally put the contents of your conscience to the test.



“No amount of homily can convey the enormity of this task. But suffice it to say that you are already initiating an interaction with history. Whatever action or inaction you exhibit today will serve as your testament in the annals of the Nigerian judiciary.


“As judicial Officers, you may have, one way or the other, trodden this somewhat dreaded terrain, but you must, against all odds, rise above the murky waters of failure and infamy.


“The onus is on you to keep aloft the banner of honesty and integrity that the judiciary has painstakingly hoisted over the years. Your appointment to serve in these tribunals is well conceived, thus, you should do everything within your ability to justify this confidence.


“There is no doubt that you will be exposed to different forms of temptations and even blackmails but you should know that all are aimed at testing your strength of character, honesty and integrity.


“My candid advice is that, in whatever circumstance, you should always be mindful of this oath you have just taken because it now stands as an uncompromising witness between you and your creator.


“It behoves you to willingly submit yourselves to the sanctity of the rule of law and supremacy of the Constitution in the discharge of your judicial functions. It is the general belief that elections held when the rule of law is too fragile, seldom lead to lasting democratic governance.


“You are enjoined to always strike a balance between justice and the rule of law as you embark on this critical national assignment.


“As you all know, the rule of law delayed is lasting peace denied because justice is a handmaiden of true peace.


“We need this in Nigeria more than ever before. The trumpet must first sound from the temple of justice; hence we put you forward as champions of this noble cause.


“By the virtue of this oath, you are now armed with the power to adjudicate on electoral disputes and take decisions in accordance with your convictions, which must be deeply rooted in law and not sentiments or public opinion.


“I pray the Almighty God will grant you the courage and wisdom to carry out this responsibility without faltering or failing.”


It would be recalled that the CJN had earlier sworn in 307 judicial officers to preside over petitions from the 2023 general election.


The addition of the 39 judges has increased the number of the various tribunal members currently hearing petitions that arose from the conduct of the 2023 general elections to 346.

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