The Forum of Nigerian Leaders and Elders (TFNLE) on Saturday declared support for the resolve of former Vice President Atiku Abubakar, the presidential candidate of Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) to challenge results of last poll exercise in the courts as provided for in the constitution, describing his decision as patriotic, responsible and ultimately the highest contribution to the democratic system.
The Forum comprising of PANDEF, Northern Elders Forum (NEF), the pan-Yoruba socio-political group, Afenifere, Ohanaeze and Middle Belt Forum (MBF) expressed this support in a statement signed by their leaders, including Chief E. K. Clark, Prof. Ango Abdullahi, Chief Ayo Adebanjo, Chief John Nwodo and Dr. Pogu Bitrus, copy of which was available to the Tribune Online.
This was just as the forum while commending what it termed the statesmanship and commitment to the democratic process of the PDP candidate, Alhaji Atiku, noted that in a situation such as this “some other person would by now be soaking ‘baboons and dogs in blood’.
“The Forum of Nigerian Leaders and Elders has reviewed major developments leading to the February 23rd Presidential elections, the management of the electoral process and the conduct and announced outcome of the elections.
“The Forum commends the statesmanship and commitment to the democratic process of the PDP candidate, Alhaji Atiku Abubakar, GCON, Wazirin Adamawa to exhaust the entire democratic process by challenging the results in the courts as provided for in the constitution. We see his decision as patriotic, responsible and ultimately the highest contribution to the democratic system. Some other person would by now be soaking ‘baboons and dogs in blood,” the group said.
The Forum said it observed that the last Presidential and National Assembly polls had revealed massive irregularities and outright abuse of the electoral laws, the rules and regulations of INEC as well as the failure of security forces to remain neutral and operate within the highest standards of their calling.
It said that the Peace Accord entered into by the presidential candidates of various political party before poll exercise with former Head of State, General Abdulsalami Abubakar and his team was ridiculed by deliberate and open abuse of organs of the state, the denial of rights of many citizens to vote and blatant abuse of all the commitments made by the administration under President Muhammadu Buhari.
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“To decline to challenge obviously fictional figures, failures to respect key elements of the electoral process such as the use of Smart Card Readers and preventing agents and observers access to all processes is to condone the massive setback which this election represents for the country,” the forum said.
According to it, the outcome of the elections was clearly premeditated in the refusal of President Buhari to sign the amended Electoral Act and the orchestrated suspension of Justice Walter Onoghen as the Chief Justice of Nigeria (CJN) shortly before the composition of Electoral Tribunals.
The forum, therefore, called on the judiciary to uphold the highest standards of integrity and commitment to its hallowed role by doing justice to the appeals that would come before it knowing that the eyes of the world would be on them, saying it was aware that attempts were being made to demoralise and intimidate the critical arm of government to remove a conducive context for litigations.
“We are aware that attempts are being made to demoralize and intimidate the judiciary to remove a conducive context for litigations. We remind the judiciary that it is the last defence of our democratic process,” the forum said.
The forum appealed to all Nigerians to continue to show faith in the democratic process and remain law-abiding as the country awaited the decisions of the judiciary on a matter it said would ultimately determine the quality of the nation’s “democratic process and the nature of the nation we all call our own.”
Speaking further, the forum recalled that in endorsing the candidature of PDP, Alhaji Atiku for the presidential election, it anchored its support on identifying a candidate among many good candidates one who could retool Nigeria to move on the path of development as a true federal entity.
It said that the pattern of voting in areas where there were semi-free elections showed overwhelming endorsements of its position by popular votes, adding that: “And the poll’s results have shown further a badly divided polity that needs a unifier and not a divisive person as a leader.
“We insist Nigerians must stand firm and ensure that we are governed by a legitimate leadership,” the forum declared.