Presidential Appeals Tribunal: Consider Nigeria first, Timi Frank tells S'Court Justices

Timi Frank

With about 48 hours to the judgment on the appeals challenging eligibility of Bola Ahmed Tinubu as President of Nigeria, a political activist and former Deputy National Publicity Secretary of the All Progressives Congress (APC), Timi Frank, on Saturday, October 21, 2023, has called on the Justices of the Supreme Court to consider national interest first above personal interests.

He said the advice became necessary because of the sustainability of democracy. 

According to him, the Apex Court Justices should ignore inducements and consider their reputations after retirement.

"There will be promises, gifts and inducements. Some of you are about to retire. What reputation do you want to retire with? Do you want to retire with blood-stained wealth given the number of people whose blood were shed during the election without peace in your conscience,” he queried.

Frank said these in a statement in Abuja, in reaction to hearing notices from the court to parties in the case fixed for Monday and the setting up of a seven-man panel of Justices to hear the appeals filed by three presidential candidates challenging the outcome of the February 25, 2023, election and the subsequent dismissal of their petitions by the tribunal.

The candidates are Atiku Abubakar of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Peter Obi of the Labour Party (LP) and Chichi Ojei of the Allied Peoples Movement (APM).

The Supreme Court Justices to sit on the appeals included Justices Musa Dattijo Muhammad, Uwani Musa Abba Aji, Lawal Garba, Helen M. Ogunwumiju, I.N. Saulawa, Tijjani Abubakar and Emmanuel Agim.

Frank who is the United Liberation Movement for West Papua (ULMWP) Ambassador to East Africa and the Middle East, told the Justices to know that the appeals they are about to be hear would remain the toughest, far-reaching and represents the most difficult decision they would ever make in their long years of stewardship at the bench. 

He said, “We know there will be intense pressure on you, Justices, to do the wrong thing. There will be promises, gifts and inducements. Some of you are about to retire. What reputation do you want to retire with? Do you want to retire with blood-stained wealth given the number of people whose blood were shed during the election without peace in your conscience? 

"You can be vindicated today by man who wants you people to do injustice and inflict more pains on Nigerians. Will you also be vindicated by God? What do you want to be remembered for upon retirement?

“This is not about Atiku Abubakar, it's not all about Peter Obi, it's not about the APM party. But it's about the legacy and precedent that you are about to hand down in Nigeria. The supreme Court as the last line of defense of democracy and the rule of law must fulfil its duty and this is the moment to do so.

“Therefore, this is not the time to base your ruling on technicalities. Judge within your consciences and God to know if the arguments before you are viable or not. You must thoroughly weigh the facts and the truth before arriving at a decision.”

The activist emphasized that the whole world has seen the facts and they know the truth about what transpired during the elections. 

“They also know who submitted a forged certificate to the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC). The courts in other jurisdictions have proven and certified some of these facts. 

“This is not time for the Supreme Court to reject any evidence that is germane to unraveling the truth and doing justice in the case notwithstanding arguments that the Supreme Court will not admit new evidence."

Frank told the Justices not to seek to protect the interests of one party or one man against over 200 million Nigerians, home and abroad, that are now anxiously waiting for truth to prevail.

“Already the world has lost confidence in the Nigerian judiciary. Nigerians and members of the international community have lost confidence on the judiciary. But we believe this is time to prove the nay sayers wrong. 

“This is the time for the justices to restore hope in the judiciary. Your decision would either rekindle hope in the country or further destroy it,” he said.

Frank recalled that the Chief Justice of Nigeria, Justice Kayode Ariwoola, while addressing 22 newly sworn-in judges of the Federal High Court recently said the constitution must be considered in deciding each case brought before them.

Ariwoola had said, “Several vitriolic attacks are regularly heaped on the judiciary; it is, however, crystal clear that public opinion, no matter how serious or weighty it might be, cannot override or supersede the Constitution of the country, which we apply in deciding each case.

“Nevertheless, your Lordships still owe your conscience and the generality of the Nigerian masses, particularly those who are looking up to you, the great responsibility of good moral rectitude and acceptable conduct to uphold and consolidate the trust reposed in you.”

Frank who agreed with the CJN that the constitution must be the basis of arriving at a decision in the instant case, said the Justices of the Supreme Court that would hear the appeal would owe their decisions to the provisions of the constitution, their consciences, God and the good of the country.

He said, “Already, members of the ruling party and those in government are celebrating their expected favourable outcome of the appeal, which points to the fact that they may be privy to how the Justices will rule, which Nigerians do not know. If that be the case, man would have spoken but God and posterity will speak for Nigerians at the end of the day.

“We urge the Justices to be bold and courageous like the Kenyan Supreme Court Justices that today are a shining example and a reference point as an upright and unbiased judiciary in the continent of Africa.

“Defend our laws. We are not demanding for you to do anything against the law as Nigerians, but respect the constitution, which forbids candidates from presenting forged certificates to INEC," Frank concluded.
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