The National Judicial Council (NJC) was forced to debunk reports of the resignation of Boloukuoromo Ugo after supporters of Peter Obi, the presidential candidate of the Labour Party in the last election, began spreading reports of his purported protest exit from the court hearing the petitions of Obi against the outcome of the 2023 presidential election.
Umar Sani, an avowed Obidient, claimed in a tweet that Ugo resigned his membership of the presidential election petition court owing to pressure from some quarters to compromise his judgement. He claimed that the justice authored a letter in which he lamented underhand efforts to “cripple the independence of the judiciary”.
However, the National Judicial Council (NJC) has through its Information Director, Soji Oye, dismissed the claim as fake news and the said letter as a work of fiction. The body, which is responsible for judges in the country, maintained Ugo’s continued membership of the court and his freedom from pressure as the tribunal prepares his verdict.
The episode represents the continuation of the targeting of the judiciary for harassment by the supporters of Peter Obi following the near-unanimous consensus that their preferred candidate failed to prove his case in court.
The tribunal closed without Obi factually establishing his claims of “widespread rigging and electoral malpractice” and is now forced to rely on a contentious interpretation of the constitution that the victory of President Tinubu be nullified because he failed to secure 25% of the votes cast in Abuja, the country’s capital.
However, judicial experts have expressed strong doubts that the “25% strategy” will sail through as it invites the court to declare the votes of Abuja residents are of greater value and consequence than those of Nigerians living in other parts of the country.
Many, including Femi Falana SAN, have said that Nigeria does not operate a collegiate electoral system and the winner of the presidential election only has to win the majority of votes cast and a spread of 25% vote share in 2/3rd of states in the country, a condition President Tinubu meets.
With a dim chance of victory in the court on the strength of tendered arguments, Obidients are hoping to intimidate the judiciary into a favourable decision with baseless claims of inducement and interference.
Earlier, they alleged that the Chief Justice of Nigeria, Olukayode Ariwoola, disguised in a wheelchair out of the country to meet with President Tinubu in London, United Kingdom. Meanwhile, on the day he reportedly went for the meeting, the CJN was in his Abuja office, as confirmed by reporters.