A former President of the Nigerian Bar Association, Dr Olisa Agbakoba (SAN), has said he is in support of the presidential candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party, Alhaji Atiku Abubakar’s decision to challenge the result of the February 23 presidential poll in court.
He, however, expressed doubts that Atiku would get justice because “President Muhammadu Buhari has subverted the Supreme Court by the removal of the Chief Justice of Nigeria, Honourable Justice Walter Onnoghen, and the appointment of the acting Chief Justice of Nigeria (Justice Muhammad Tanko).”
Agbakoba, who had earlier urged Atiku not to go to court to challenge the poll result, said his earlier advice was based on his view that the PDP presidential candidate would face “an uphill task, given the circumstances of challenging election results” in the country.
He said from his experience as one of Nigeria’s experienced election petitions lawyers, the burden of proof to succeed in an election petition “is unfairly huge.”
“We first have to prove that there are electoral irregularities and in my view, once you prove this, you should succeed. Unfortunately, even if you prove electoral irregularities you will have to show how that affected the results of the election.
“Remember that the gap between former Vice-President, Atiku Abubakar, and President Muhammadu Buhari is about four million votes. It is clear to me that the presidential election results were manifestly riddled with electoral irregularities.
“Now that former Vice-President Atiku Abubakar has approached the court, it is important to emphasise that he is constitutionally entitled to do so. My personal advice has become irrelevant. I fully support and wish former Vice-President Atiku Abubakar every success,” Agbakoba said.
He, however, bemoaned the delay by the National Judicial Council in dealing with the case of the suspended Justice Onnoghen and the acting CJN, Justice Tanko.
He said, “My perception is that we need to resolve the status of the Supreme Court. I wonder what is taking the National Judicial Council so long. I am also worried about the historical precedent, as no petition on presidential election result has ever succeeded.”