A supporter of Peter Obi identified as ‘Chidi Harry’ and who reportedly resides in Milan, Italy, has issued a chilling threat to Justice Haruna Tsammani, one of the Supreme Court judges handling the Labour Party’s candidate’s challenge of the outcome of the 2023 election at the presidential election petition tribunal.
In a tweet containing a photo of the justice and two infants reported to be his children, Chidi Harry with the Twitter handle ‘@SantaChidi’ threatened a “loud implosion” if the judge refuses to decide in favour of Peter Obi as the Tribunal prepares its verdict.
“Hello Justice Tsammani! I know people will say this is blackmail or whitemail or LGTV mail, I don’t give flying hoot. This is to let you and every judge on the PEPT Panel know that if you get compromised, lemme [sic] reserve my thoughts,” he tweeted.
“DON’T LET THE DEVIL USE YOU AGAINST YOURSELF cos the implosion go loud,” he concluded.
The tweet represents an escalation of the harassment of the judiciary that Obi’s supporters have embarked on for weeks, particularly after independent legal experts started remarking on the weakness of the petition filed by the former Anambra governor.
Chidi directly threatened the well-being of the judge and places his family, particularly his infant kids, in danger with the reckless circulation of their image in a post that has gathered nearly a million impressions. IPOB, a proscribed terror group that declared support for Obi during the election, has been linked to several abductions and political assassinations in states within and bordering the eastern region of the country.
The targeting of individual judges and their relatives indicates the growing desperation of Ob’s supporters as the Tribunal reviews the case in preparation for a verdict. This may be due to the general expectation that Obi’s petition, having failed to bear out its claims, will fail.
According to independent legal experts who have published analyses of the case, the petition failed to substantiate its key claims, including that the declared winner was ineligible to participate in the contest and INEC’s purported non-compliance with aspects of its own guidelines related to the transmission of results warrants cancellation.
The onslaught against the judiciary by supporters of Peter Obi predictably stems from a sense of looming defeat. The goal, analysts say, is to intimidate the judges into taking a favourable stance or tarnish the reputation of the judiciary in the event that a favourable ruling is eventually announced.
Before now, they had spread the news of the purported resignation of Justice Boloukuromo Ugo from the Tribunal Panel in protest of an alleged pressure to compromise and betray his conscience. The National Judicial Council (NJC), a regulatory and disciplinary body of the judiciary in Nigeria, debunked the news as false with a statement emphasizing the justice’s continued membership of the panel and the absence of any untoward pressure — except the one mounted by supporters of Peter Obi.
In another instance, they alleged that the Chief Justice of Nigeria, Ariwoola Kayode, disguised in a wheelchair to complete a clandestine London trip where he met with the president to work out plans for a rigged outcome in courts. However, on the day he purportedly made the trip, journalists confirmed that the CJN was in his Abuja office and carried out his normal duties, including a trip to the Mosque at noon to pray with hundreds of other Muslims.
More recently, they alleged that Nigeria’s ex-Minister, Babatunde Fashola, is writing a judgement which will be handed to the Tribunal for announcement. The Senior Advocate has denied the accusation and has petitioned the Police and other security agencies for a probe of the claim while also filing a lawsuit against its propagators. Last weekend, they alleged that Fashola was placed on home arrest by the military for conflicting reasons. Meanwhile, the same man was at the wedding ceremony of a colleague where he moved freely and interacted with fellow well-wishers.
The harassment of the judiciary forms part of the scorched-earth tactics deployed by Obi’s supporters before, during and after the election. Despite loud complaints from Nigerians and other international organizations of the danger of the group’s extremism and unrestrained attack on critical national institutions, Peter Obi, the man at the centre of the toxic campaign has remained silent, failing to rebuke or rein in his followers.