Prominent lawyer and Senior Advocate of Nigeria (SAN), Femi Falana, has expressed concern about the unprecedented levels of blackmail and intimidation faced by the judiciary in relation to the presidential election petitions.
He emphasized that such tactics are unnecessary since the Supreme Court remains an avenue for appeal.
Falana, appearing as a guest on Channels Television’s “Politics Today” on Monday, noted that there has never been an election petition in Nigeria that has garnered such attention, dating back to the colonial era.
“We have been having election petitions since the colonial era, but none has attracted such a level of blackmail and intimidation of the judiciary,” Falana stated.
He expressed his worry that some people seem to believe that everything concludes with the judgment of the Court of Appeal or the Presidential Election Petition Tribunal. Falana reminded the public that any party dissatisfied with the verdict still has the opportunity to appeal to the Supreme Court. He questioned the basis for the ongoing campaign of intimidation and blackmail.
Falana attributed this blackmail and intimidation to new voters who often have the belief that their preferred candidate must be declared the winner, even if that is not the purpose of election tribunals. He stressed that the role of the judges is to examine the evidence, apply the law, and deliver a decision, free from intimidation.
“The judges must not be intimidated; they must give their decision regardless of blackmail or intimidation, convinced that they can justify their judgment,” Falana emphasized.
He reiterated that the judges’ duty is to evaluate the evidence, apply the law, and deliver a decision. Inevitably, some parties will lose, and some will win, but those dissatisfied with the outcome have the opportunity to approach the Supreme Court and demonstrate how the Court of Appeal may have erred.
The Court of Appeal has announced that it will deliver its judgment on the presidential election petitions on Wednesday, with the proceedings open to live broadcast by interested television stations. The petitions were filed by the Labour Party (LP), the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), and the Allied Peoples Movement (APM), along with their respective presidential candidates, challenging the victory of President Bola Tinubu in the 2023 presidential election