Political activist and former deputy national publicity secretary of the All Progressives Congress (APC) Timi Frank has accused the President Muhammadu Buhari and the leadership of the All Progressives Congress (APC) of resorting to harassment and blackmail of judges to do their bidding.
The activist, however, expressed confidence in the Supreme Court justices, saying the highest court remains a credible institution.
Reacting to the Appeal Court judgement which denied the presidential candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Atiku Abubakar, access to inspect the computer server of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) used for the 2019 election, Frank said in a statement released Tuesday in Abuja that the Buhari government “has resorted to using various security agencies to openly intimidate some of the judges into doing its bidding.”
Frank cited media reports quoting the president of Nigerian Bar Association (NBA), Paul Usoro, who declared that judges are afraid of performing their duties as expected due to fear and intimidation from the executive arm of government.
The report quoted the Senior Advocate of Nigeria (SAN) as saying: “Our Judges are threatened, intimidated and blackmailed mostly by the executive arm of government and their agencies both at the federal and state levels.
“Our judges cannot deliver justice under a climate of fear and intimidation. Justice thrives where and when there is an independent judiciary. There can be no such independence when there is no security of tenure for our Judges. There can be no independence of the judiciary when our judges are intimidated, threatened and blackmailed by state agencies and their officials.
“There can be no independence of the judiciary when our judges are actively coerced by state officials to think and reason only in the manner that those officials and, presumably, government want them to think.”
In his response, the Atiku ally said: “We are informing Nigerians that even the ruling of the Appeal Court was long written according to a script handed down by the ruling APC, but Nigerians respect and believe in the Supreme Court.
“We hope that the Supreme Court, which is the last hope of all oppressed Nigerians will summon courage to stand by the people and decide the present appeal based on the overwhelming evidence before the court and the verdict of credible local and international organisations like the European Union, National Democratic Institute (NDI) and the International Republican Institute (IRI), among others.”
Frank alleged that President Buhari is plotting to appoint five new Supreme Court judges who will eventually be part of the panel to determine the presidential election petition appeal “the same way it did at the Appeal Court.”
“The good thing is that the law of justice has never failed no matter how long. Those who succumb to pressure to do evil now should not forget that the repercussions of such evil collusion will ultimately catch up with them in future – directly or indirectly.
“Nigerians are patiently waiting for Atiku to rescue them from the shackles of insecurity, hunger, unmployment, directionless government and government of cabals,” Frank stated.