Atiku Abubakar: The Disjuncture In The Constant Conjecture

By Bala Ibrahim.

I have nothing personal against Atiku Abubakar, the defeated presidential candidate of the PDP and the charismatic Waziri of Adamawa. In fact, to the contrary, I love him for his doggedness and deadly determination to do something, even where the issue at hand is very difficult. But my love for him is countered by the irony of disjuncture in his recent legal conjunctures. When Atiku Abubakar was fighting his former principal, the then president of Nigeria, Chief Olusegun Matthew Okikiola Ogunboye Aremu Obasanjo, I was in support of him all through. He gave Obasanjo a bloody nose in court, incontrovertibly, forcing me to be his supporter out and out.

Not only did Atiku make my affection for democracy deeper, but he succeeded in making me extremely passionate about the legal profession. I loved the law to the point that I almost enrolled, but my complexion disqualified me. Someone said you must have five credits at O level and a complexion that is reflective of a chameleon. This means to be a good lawyer, you must be highly developed in the skills of changing color.

The maxim that says the law is common sense sensibly applied, further underpins my love for the legal profession, but sadly, makes me question Atiku Abubakar’s sense of reasoning, because of the ease with which he is fast falling prey nowadays, to those that are bent on fleecing his integrity. Yes fleecing his integrity, because they are making him act against the provision of common sense, and it’s sensible application.

The pronouncement of the Supreme court today, which was unanimous among the seven Justices of the court, in dismissing the application of Atiku Abubakar, is a big testimony to my believe that, there is a disjuncture in Atiku’s constant conjectures, at least from the prism of legal opinion. Despite the wildly held public opinion about the position of the law, with regards the presentation of new evidence at appeal, Atiku was convinced, or better put, confused, to file fresh evidence against President Bola Ahmed Tinubu at the Supreme Court, relying on what they told him are sound and damning evidence obtained from Tinubu’s record at Chicago State University, CSU. They said Tinubu submitted forged documents to INEC, as a consequence of which, the Supreme Court would quash his victory. This is notwithstanding the fact that the plea would be fresh and coming after the legally prescribed 180 days.

Long before the ruling today, my boss in the office, who happens to be a lawyer of repute, had taken me through the legal provisions and what he believed would be the likely line to be towed by the Supreme Court. Lo and behold, in his ruling, Justice Inyang Okoro, chairman of the 7-man panel, said the time allotted to election petitions is fixed like the “Rock of Gibraltar” which cannot be extended or expanded.

“It has to be noted that the 180 days imposed is immutable and cannot be extended… Election petitions are “sui generis” and have their own peculiarities… the court below lost its jurisdiction to determine any matter concerning the petition after the 180 days which expired on September 17. This court cannot do what the lower court is no longer constitutionally allowed to do by section 285 of the constitution. No amendment can be made introducing new facts not contained in the election petition as stated in section 132(7) of the Electoral Act. This application clearly runs foul of the Electoral Act.”

The dictionary told me the term sui generis is an adjective in Latin language, that literally means, something of its own kind. Anything sui generis is its own thing, with nothing else like it. If not for the disjuncture of conjecture, Atiku would have reasoned rightly, to understand that there is no way the position of the law can be changed, simply because of the considered comfort of the complainant. No way.

Atiku’s disjuncture of conjecture deluded him into believing that, the victory of President Tinubu could be upturned, on the ground that he failed to secure 25% of the votes cast at the Federal Capital Territory, FCT, and that INEC failed in its promise to transmit the results electronically. But Justice Okoro woke him up to reality by saying, “It is basic that the court should give a holistic Interpretation to statutes to save the generality of the people and not a select few, thus, in interpreting the requirements to be declared elected president, the court holds that 25% votes are not required for FCT.” The Supreme Court went ahead to uphold that the failure by INEC to transmit election results electronically did not affect the outcome of the election and could not warrant the nullification of the result of the presidential election.

As an interested party in the now affirmed victory of President Bola Ahmed Tinubu, I must express my sympathy for the grieve of Atiku Abubakar, with the hope that henceforth, he would learn, or take a lesson on the meaning of disjuncture in conjecture.