The Nigerian presidential election is April 21, and the clock is ticking for some key court rulings that could clear the way for Vice President Atiku Abubakar to either compete or permanently be disqualified. An appeals court is expected to rule sometime this week whether the elections commission has the right to disqualify the vice president.
It is also expected that the Nigerian Supreme Court may rule sometime this week on whether President Olusegun Obasanjo has the right to remove Vice President Abubakar. Expected also is the ruling by the Court of Appeal on whether the vice president has immunity from prosecution over allegations of corruption.
Professor Auwalu Yadudu is the dean of the Bayero University law school in Kano. Her said the appeals court would most likely uphold the decision of the lower court that Vice President Abubakar has immunity from prosecution.
“I would imagine that the status quo will remain, which is that a lower court has ruled that he (Vice President Abukaka) has immunity, and he will continue to have that immunity until the court of appeals thinks otherwise,” he said.
Expected also is the appeals court’s ruling on whether the elections commission has the right to disqualify Vice President Abubakar. Professor Yadudu said the Nigerian courts realize the importance and urgency of the cases before them.
“I think all the courts that are seized with this matter are all aware about time being of the essence in the issues involved, and I would expect an extradited treatment of the matter. Without vouching for the exact time, I would that a decision will be given one way or another, before election date,” Yadudu said.
The other expected crucial court ruling that is causing anxiety among Nigerians is whether President Olusegun Obasanjo and the ruling People’s Democratic Party have the power to declare the vice president’s position vacant.
Professor Yadudu said the Supreme Court is likely to hear that case on March 29th. He said the Supreme Court is likely to uphold the lower court’s ruling.
“I happen to believe that the decision of the court (lower court) was sound, and it is very, very unlikely that it would be overturned by the Supreme Court,” he said.
Professor Yadudu said the barrage of court cases has served a useful purpose in that it has brought much needed clarity to Nigeria’s constitution.
“Well, for a professor of law, I like very much what is happening in the sense that so much clarity is being brought to our constitutional provision, and that it would make teaching for us a lot more interesting. I am aware that time is not on our side. But even given that constraint, the courts would give us direction one way or the other. Whether those who are in the position of authority to implement court orders would accept it, is another thing,” Yadudu said.