Project-2019 (P2019), a Civil Society Organisation (CSO), says Atiku Abubakar’s decision to challenge the outcome of Feb. 23 presidential election in court will improve the electoral process and deepen Nigeria’s democracy.
Mr Wale Ogunade, a constitutional lawyer and convener of the group, disclosed this while speaking with the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) on Tuesday in Lagos.
The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) had on Feb. 27, declared President Muhammadu Buhari winner of the election.
INEC Chairman, Prof. Mahmoud Yakubu, while announcing the results in Abuja, said Buhari of the All Progressives Congress (APC), polled 15, 191, 847 votes to defeat his main challenger, Alhaji Atiku Abubakar of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), who polled 11, 225, 978 votes.
Atiku has since rejected the results, vowing to challenge it in court.
Some prominent Nigerians and groups have appealed to him to concede defeat to Buhari and congratulate him.
Ogunade, however, said Atiku’s decision to seek legal action is a necessary step.
“To me it is good that Atiku is going to court because it will enhance our judicial system, add more to our jurisprudence and deepen our democracy.
“Buhari went to court about three times after he lost to PDP in previous elections. And as lawyers, we use some of those issues raised during the trial in court.
“We cite Buhari’s case against Obasanjo, Buhari against Yar’Adua and Buhari against Jonathan. And issues on jurisdiction, compliance to electoral law or time of filing or conduct of the election itself, were raised and addressed.
“All these issues have helped to enrich our judicial system because lawyers depend on these precedents or former cases to build up their case in court,” he said.
Ogunade said going to court would bring about legal skills that would transform the legal system for good of the country.
“On jurisprudence, it shows the brain and knowledge of the various counsels that worked on the cases and most of them are Senior Advocates Nigeria (SANs), that you will not run into, ordinarily in courts.
“And these SANs are people that even the judicial system may not have the opportunity of getting their views on issues regularly.
“They too (SANs), will generate some germane issues that when thrown into jurisprudence and later brought to the fore, it will be for the betterment and knowledge of the society and it will improve the legal system,” he said.
Ogunade also said the nation’s democracy would be deepened and positive lessons would be learnt if Atiku takes the legal action.
“Such case will strengthen the nation’s democracy as it will be seen as a better option to act civil by going to court rather than take to violence or distabilise the polity.
“It will also be a training ground or reference point for other politicians or intending democrats to say let’s stick to the rule of law as obtained during Atiku versus Buhari case.
“Even INEC, government and other stakeholders will get to know other issues pertaining to the conduct of the election in some areas that were not known before.
“I still wonder why people are asking Atiku not to go to court? I think his decision will develop the legal system and the country as a whole,” Ogunade said. (NAN)