Tinubu’s Terrifying Warning: Nigeria’s Democracy Hangs by a Thread

President Bola Ahmed Tinubu

President Bola Ahmed Tinubu has delivered a chilling warning to members of the presidential elections tribunal, sending shockwaves through the nation. As the legal battle over the legitimacy of the February 25, 2023 Presidential election intensifies, the stakes have never been higher.

The President acknowledged his failure to secure 25% of votes cast in Abuja, the Federal Capital Territory, but staunchly defended the validity of his victory declared by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC).

In a dramatic final defense statement to the court, Mr. Tinubu’s lawyers, led by Wole Olanipekun, underscored the dire consequences of removing the President from office. They argued that any interpretation contrary to the election’s outcome would lead to absurdity, chaos, and anarchy, fundamentally altering the intentions of the constitution.

The focal point of the legal dispute revolves around a section of the Nigerian Constitution, which stipulates that a presidential candidate must obtain 25% of votes in two-thirds of Nigeria’s 36 states and the Federal Capital Territory. Mr. Tinubu’s failure to reach this threshold in Abuja has fueled heated public debates about the clause’s implications for the nation’s democracy.

Tinubu’s legal team contended that courts have traditionally adopted a purposeful approach to interpreting the Constitution, and extreme interpretations could lead to chaos. They asserted that even if the President had not scored any votes in Abuja and one other state, his overall election victory should still stand. This argument contrasts with the petitions filed by Atiku Abubakar of the Peoples Democratic Party and Peter Obi of the Labor Party, who alleged widespread irregularities and electoral malpractices.

INEC had previously declared Mr. Tinubu the winner of the presidential election, citing his victory with 8,794,726 votes against Abubakar’s 6,984,520 votes and Obi’s 6,101,533 votes.

In response to the petitions, Tinubu’s lawyers strongly denied the allegations against their client, emphasizing that any payment made by the President to U.S. authorities was not a “fine” as stated in the Nigerian Constitution. They also argued that the alleged offenses took place outside Nigeria, and thus, could not disqualify him from the election.

With the legal proceedings set to continue, the nation awaits the responses from Abubakar and Obi to the arguments presented by Tinubu’s legal team. The tribunal, comprising justices of the Abuja Division of the Court of Appeal, is expected to finalize the arguments and deliver a judgment.

Regardless of the tribunal’s final ruling, this high-stakes legal battle is poised to reach the Supreme Court, where a definitive decision will be made. The future of Nigeria’s democracy hangs by a thread as the judiciary grapples with upholding the rule of law, safeguarding democratic principles, and ensuring the nation’s stability.

In the face of such uncertainty, Nigerians brace themselves for a turbulent and unpredictable road ahead, one that may define the destiny of the nation for generations to come.

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