The apex Igbo socio cultural organization, Ohanaeze Ndigbo has warned the Judiciary to be independent in their verdict on the 2023 General Elections in Nigeria which were marred by allegations of irregularities and non-compliance with electoral laws, raising concerns about the transparency and independence of the electoral process.
The apex Igbo group said lack of adherence to the electronic transfer of election results from polling units to the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) central server, known as IREV, further fueled the concerns of irregularities and alleged electoral fraud.
Ohanaeze further noted that as Nigerians eagerly await the verdict of the Presidential Election Petition Tribunal (PEPT), their expectations are high for an unbiased and uncompromised judgment.
Additionally, the interpretation of the constitutional requirement for a presidential candidate to win 25% of 2/3 of the states and the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) Abuja is a crucial issue that the judiciary must address.
In a statement signed by the Secretary General of the Ohanaeze Ndigbo, Mazi Okechukwu Isiguzoro, the group explores the expectations of Nigerians from the PEPT and emphasizes the consequences of an erroneous judgment in light of recent events such as the Nigerien military coup.
1. Impartiality and Fairness
Nigerians expect the PEPT to demonstrate impartiality and fairness in its proceedings and judgment. Given the allegations of irregularities and non-compliance with electoral laws, it is crucial for the tribunal to thoroughly investigate and objectively assess the evidence brought before it.
The Nigerian populace expects the judges to be independent of any external influence or bias, ensuring that justice prevails and the truth is upheld.
2. Compliance with Electoral Laws and Transparency
The alleged lack of compliance with electoral laws and the absence of transparency in the 2023 General Elections have eroded public trust in the electoral process. Nigerians hope that the PEPT will carefully scrutinize these allegations and make a decisive ruling based on the evidence presented.
Furthermore, the tribunal should use this opportunity to highlight the importance of adhering to electoral laws and emphasize the need for transparency in future elections.
3. Interpretation of the Constitution
The constitutional requirement for a presidential candidate to win 25% of 2/3 of the states and the FCT Abuja is a matter of great significance. The judiciary plays a crucial role in interpreting and clarifying constitutional provisions.
Nigerians expect the PEPT to thoroughly analyze the constitutional provisions in question, ensuring a clear and unambiguous interpretation. By doing so, the tribunal will provide guidance for future elections and prevent potential constitutional crises.
4. Ohanaeze Ndigbo’s Warning
The apex Igbo cultural organization, Ohanaeze Ndigbo, has cautioned the PEPT judges against making any errors in their verdict. Nigerians understand the gravity of this warning and recognize the potential consequences of an erroneous judgment.
The judiciary must consider the broader implications of their decisions, as a flawed verdict could undermine public confidence in the democratic process and lead to social and political unrest.
5. Lessons from Niger Military Coup
Recent events, such as the military coup in Niger, serve as a stark reminder of the fragility of democracy and the importance of upholding the rule of law. Nigerians have witnessed the disastrous consequences of political instability and the erosion of democratic institutions.
The PEPT must bear these lessons in mind and recognize the pivotal role they play in upholding the integrity of the electoral process and preserving Nigeria’s democracy.
The expectations of Nigerians for the 2023 Presidential Election Petition Tribunal are rooted in the desire for an unbiased and uncompromised verdict.