The presidential candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Mr Atiku Abubakar, and President Bola Tinubu are locked in a war of words over an alleged plot to manipulate the ongoing electoral dispute at the Presidential Election Petition Court, Abuja.
Atiku, a former vice president, in a statement on Saturday in Abuja by his media office, alleged that there are threats from the All Progressives Congress (APC), Tinubu’s party, that aim to intimidate the judiciary from ensuring justice in the ongoing presidential electoral dispute.
But Tinubu and the APC have dismissed the allegations.
Atiku, who came second in the 25 February presidential election, is urging the Presidential Election Petition Court to overturn Tinubu’s victory on account of alleged electoral fraud.
Mr Peter Obi of the Labour Party (LP) and the Allied Peoples Movement (APM) in their separated suits, are also asking the five-member panel of the court headed by Justice Haruna Tsammani, to nullify the president’s victory at the polls.
They are accusing the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) of manipulating the entire electoral process in favour of Tinubu.
The petitioners also argued during the court’s hearing that Tinubu and the vice president, Mr Kashim Shettima were not eligible to vie for the presidency owing to allegations of criminal forfeiture and double nomination against the duo.
However, Messrs Tinubu, Shettima, the APC and INEC, in their defence before the court, contended that there was substantial compliance with the electoral laws in the conduct of the 25 February presidential election.
They urged the court to dismiss the suits against Mr Tinubu.
‘Sinister plot to undermine Nigeria’s judiciary, democracy’
But in a fresh reaction to the court’s proceedings, Atiku said there is a plot to compromise the judiciary’s independence.
In the statement signed by his media aide, Mr Paul Ibe, the PDP candidate described the last general election as the “the worst in the annals of democratic politics in our country,” a position Tinubu has refuted.
Atiku who was Nigeria’s vice president from 1999 to 2007, said INEC’s “arbitrariness” in declaring Mr Tinubu as winner of the election despite not fulfilling the statutory requirements was why he is challenging the outcome.
“But as proceedings on the controversial February 25 election continue at the court, there have been threats from the ruling party that aim to intimidate the judiciary from serving the duty of justice,” the statement said.
He alleged that the APC and Tinubu’s “agents” “have ceaselessly chosen to stand in the way of justice by making catastrophic threats to anarchy if justice is not served according to their whims.”
Last Wednesday, there were social media reports that Tinubu allegedly had a secret telephone conversation with the Chief Justice of Nigeria (CJN), Olukayode Ariwoola, concerning the pending suits against the president.