The lead attorney for Nigeria’s former Vice President Atiku Abubakar says he is going to appeal Tuesday’s court decision that rejected his challenge of last April’s presidential election. Rickey Tarfa said the court’s decision would make ordinary Nigerians lose confidence in the judiciary and take matters into their own hands in the future. Some political analysts say the judgment is a significant blow to the political career of the former vice president. Nigeria’s Independent Electoral Commission (INEC) declared Alhaji Umaru Musa Yar'Adua winner of last year’s presidential elections, described by both international and local observers as hugely flawed. From Nigeria’s capital, Abuja, Rikey Tarfa tells reporter Peter Clottey that Tuesday’s ruling sets a dangerous precedent in Nigeria’s democracy.
“Now, with the judgment, we are appealing. Under the Electoral Act and the rules and regulations election petitions generally, we have 21 days within which to file our notice on the grounds of appeal to the Supreme Court. Of course, you file it first with the court of appeal because the records still have to be compiled to be transmitted to the Supreme Court. We expect that in maximum of seven days from today, we should have filed our notice of appeal, notice on the grounds of appeal,” Tarfa noted.
He denied that most Nigerians have accepted the results of last April’s presidential election.
“I don’t think that should be true. You see, the former vice president gave a press interview today; he made a statement explaining his position. Now, the situation is so bad, you are seeing in other African countries how people are taking the law into their hands, how they are losing human lives. The courts are the only last resort that could help in remedying the irregularities that are going on… for an election that you don’t have an identifying labeled ballot paper for you to do the proper auditing of an election, and for a court of law to say yes, it is a valid election…it leaves much to be desired,” he said.
Tarfa reiterated that Tuesday’s ruling sets a dangerous precedent in the country’s young democracy.
“If that is what is what we are getting from the court, I’m assuring you that a lot of Nigerians would just try to take the law into their hands and they wouldn’t bother about what remedy the court can give them again. And that would be very dangerous for the country. We believe sincerely both as lawyers and petitioners that we believe in the rule of law due process and thought that what the politicians have been doing can be controlled and remedied by the court. But it was so unfortunate that we are receiving the kind of judgment that we received from the court,” Tarfa said.
He denied speculation that the former vice president’s lawyers failed to show to the court that the presidential election was flawed.
“Any person that told you that we have not proved that, I’m assuring you that that person cannot be telling the truth because there is every evidence that you require to determine that that election was properly handled before the court,” he pointed out.
Meanwhile, some political analysts say Tuesday’s ruling significantly strengthens Nigeria's political stability, adding that it would also reassure investors.