A Senior Advocate of Nigeria (SAN), Olisa Agbakoba, has said his comments on the planned petition by the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and its presidential candidate, Atiku Abubakar, over the February 23 presidential election was misconstrued.
The former president of the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA) said this in a statement made available to Premium Times Wednesday.
Agbakoba had, last week, advised Mr Abubakar and his party to avoid litigating the outcome of the presidential election.
But in his latest statement, the senior lawyer said his advice on the seeming futility of the PDP’s application should not be taken to mean he was suggesting that Abubakar and his party will fail at the tribunal.
“Much has been made about my position on former vice president, Atiku Abubakar, approaching the court to challenge the result of the February 23, 2019, presidential election,” he said.
“I have been misquoted to say the former vice president will lose at the Presidential Election Tribunal. That is far from the truth. I meant the former vice president will face an uphill task, given the circumstances of challenging the election results.
“My initial decision to charge former vice president, Atiku , not to go to court is based on the fact that President Muhammadu Buhari has subverted the Supreme Court by the removal of the Chief Justice of Nigeria, Justice Walter Onnoghen and the appointment of the Acting Chief Justice of Nigeria’’.
But in his latest statement, the senior lawyer said his advice on the seeming futility of the PDP’s application should not be taken to mean he was suggesting that Mr Abubakar and his party will fail at the tribunal.
“My perception is that we need to resolve the status of the Supreme Court. I wonder what is taking the National Judicial Council (NJC) so long. I am also worried about the historical precedent, as no petition on presidential election result has ever succeeded.
Agbakoba said as one of Nigeria’s experienced election petition lawyers, he knows that the burden of proof to succeed in an election petition is “unfairly huge.”
“We first have to prove that there are electoral irregularities and in my view, once you prove this, you should succeed,” he said.
“Unfortunately, even if you prove electoral irregularities you will have to show how that affected the results of the election. Remember that the gap between Atiku and President Buhari is about 4 million votes.”