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Nigerian High Court Delays Abubakar Appeal Hearing

Nigerians vote tomorrow (Saturday) for state governors and legislators. The presidential election is April 21. In a new development, the Supreme Court has postponed until Monday the hearing of an appeal by Vice President Atiku Abubakar concerning whether the Electoral Commission has the power to disqualify him. The hearing was originally scheduled for Friday. What does the court delay mean for Vice President Abubakar who is the presidential candidate for the Action Congress party?

Shehu Garuba is spokesman for the vice president. He said the delay would have no negative impact on the Vice President’s campaign.

“We are satisfied because Monday looks quite good considering the obstacles that were placed not only on ourselves but on the part of the judiciary by the unexpected, unplanned for and the rather wasteful declaration of two days as a national holiday in Nigeria. So Monday looks quite good. It is still good enough time for the vice president to obtain justice and move on with his campaign,” he said.

Garuba described Monday’s hearing as a mere psychological hangover for the vice president’s campaign with no serious bearing on the campaign.

“The thing is we want to remove a psychological hangover over the campaign. But otherwise, we’ve been doing our campaign; we’ve been visiting places; we’ve been running our advertisements. So we are as set as any other person is for the race,” Garuba said.

He said he’s hopeful the Supreme Court will rule in Vice President Abubakar’s favor.

“It cannot be the intention of the constitution that the electoral commission can just look at your face and if they don’t like you, they say you can’t stand in an election. That does not accord with the basic notion of democracy anywhere in the world. That I think will be overturned,” he said.

Garuba said the Action Congress Party has fielded candidates in every state for Saturday’s gubernatorial election except for the southern states of Anambra and Delta where, he said, the Electoral Commission is trying to remove the party’s candidates from the ballot.

“We believe that if we don’t get justice before the vote, it is possible to obtain justice after the vote because the tribunals will sit over these matters and they can still overturn whatever victories are awarded to undeserving candidates,” Garuba said.

He said opposition candidates would do well in Saturday’s election because, according to him, Nigerians want change.

Garuba said Vice President Abubakar and the Action Congress party plan to file a complaint about the conduct of the election.

“As you can see, the government of President Obasanjo has in fact been rigging the election well ahead of the vote. As I speak to you now, a number of our candidates are in police detention because wherever they know they won’t do well, they will go and cease our candidates and our campaign organizers. So a number of candidates actually may win or lose this election from detention centers all over Nigeria,” Garuba said.