The presidential candidate of Nigeria’s main opposition Action Congress (AC), Atiku Abubakar, said Friday that democracy and all Nigerians were the real losers after the Supreme Court rejected his plea, and that of another opposition candidate, to nullify the 2007 general elections
”Our democracy is the real loser because there are widespread fears that desperate politicians could be emboldened to continue rigging future elections with increasing audacity,” Abubakar, the immediate past Vice President of Nigeria, said in a statement entitled: ”Supreme Court: A lost chance to salvage democracy”.
”This verdict is not a personal loss to me but a collective loss of all Nigerians who were prevented from freely choosing their leader in that election,” he added.
Abubakar and Muhammadu Buhari of the All Nigeria Peoples Party (ANPP) had instituted a legal challenge against the 21 April 2007 election of President Umaru Yar’Adua of the ruling Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), on the grounds of mass irregularities and vote rigging.
After the Court of Appeal rejected their pleas, they took their petitions to the Supreme Court, which ruled 4-3 (Buhari) and 6-1 (Abubakar) in favour of President Yar’Adua
Abubakar said though he accepts the ruling, as a democrat, the debate about the rightness or wrongness of (Friday’s) verdict in favor of the ruling party will linger, especially at a time the Judiciary is widely regarded as the last hope of the common man. That chance has been lost today but the Supreme Court Justices will in the coming days face a critical public scrutiny.”
He also alluded to media allegations of underhand dealings involving the Yar’Adua administration and some justices of the Supreme Court, saying: ”Given the desperation of the ruling party to retain power at all cost, the verdict of the Supreme Court was not altogether unexpected, especially considering media news reports which made allegations of behind-the-scenes manipulation to ensure the President retains his illegitimate and controversial victory.”
In a statement issued earlier, Abubakar’s party, the AC, said the Supreme Court ”has thrown away a rare chance to make election rigging and manipulation a thing of the past and lift Nigeria’s democracy to new heights”.
While saying it has accepted the ruling as a law-abiding party, AC noted that ”accepting the ruling is not the same as agreeing with it, especially because it went against the emerging trend around the world to punish election riggers, in addition to ensuring they do not benefit from their crime.
AC said the positions of the three dissenting judges in the case involving Gen. Muhammadu Buhari and one dissenting judge in the case filed by Alhaji Atiku Abubakar represent ”equity, justice, common sense and the yearnings of all Nigerians”.
“We are encouraged by the courage of the dissenting judges in both cases. We say unequivocally that their judgements show that there are still people of intelligence, deep knowledge and high integrity in the Supreme Court.