A leading civil Rights Advocacy group – HUMAN RIGHTS WRITERS ASSOCIATION OF NIGERIA (HURIWA) has advised president Muhammadu Buhari to be weary of the likes of his information minister Alhaji Lai Mohammed if the president ever aspires to bequeath any enduring legacies of statesmanship and patriotism to Nigerians and generation yet unborn by the time he ends his final tenure in 2023 all things being equal.
The Rights group in the same vein has carpeted the information minister for his irrational, undemocratic and unconstitutional outburst following the contentious verdict of the presidential election petition tribunal in Abuja which awarded legal victory to president Muhammadu Buhari in the post-election litigation instituted by the 2019 presidential candidate of the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) and former vice president Alhaji Atiku Abubakar.
HURIWA has therefore cautioned president Buhari to distance himself from the tragic line of thinking of his information minister because in the considered opinion of the Rights group, it is inconceivable that even a first year law student talk less an old lawyer like Alhaji Lai Mohammed could utter such a bunkum and an absolutely thoughtless reaction which runs contrary to civilized thinking and has depicted Alhaji Lai Mohammed as someone who lacks the elementary knowledge of the fundamentals of election litigation governed by adherence to the principle of Rule of law which the Nigerian Constitution being the grund norm so recognized.
The Rights group stated that it is odd and totally irrational that a serving minister and a lawyer for that matter can be quoted as demanding public apology and/or prosecution of a petitioner in a highly contentious electoral matter which for the time being has also been contentiously and controversially resolved in favour of the president who is a necessary respondent in the electoral litigation.
“Only a completely uneducated road-side political fanatic who is delusional and cut off from the reality and dynamics of constitutional democracy can be heard demanding that someone like the former vice president Atiku Abubakar who chose the most civilized and constitutional route to seek for legal redress over his perceived ‘shortchanging’ by independent national electoral commission, should apologize for choosing to go to court of law”.
“We urge president Buhari to steer clear of Lai Mohammed who is simply a crass political opportunist who is totally unmindful of the need for president Buhari in the last stage of his prolonged political career to focus on bequeathing enduring legacies of statesmanship and patriotism. Lai Mohammed by this outlandish outburst has shown himself as a political who stokes up crises for selfish aggrandizement”.
“What that empty rhetoric of Lai Mohammed shows is a man with a warped idea of what is the best step to adopt to seek for justice. Would Lai Mohammed had preferred that Atiku Abubakar never filed a suit but instigate his supporters to revolt? Was Atiku not also called a foreigner by the lawyers to the president in this same Tribunal? So what should Atiku do to President his kinsman who for political exigency chose to deny his kinsman Alhaji Atiku Abubakar and sought to deprive him of his citizenship by branding him a foreigner?
HURIWA said that the erstwhilst vice president has the constitutional right to institute any legal matter to democratically seek for redress. A plethora of provisions of the extant electoral Act permits a contestant in any election to challenge the outcome of any election even as the Constitution in Section 6 and section 36(1) have said it all as follows:
Section 6: “(1) The judicial powers of the Federation shall be vested in the courts to which this section relates, being courts established for the Federation. (2) The judicial powers of a State shall be vested in the courts to which this section relates, being courts established, subject as provided by this Constitution, for a State. (3) The courts to which this section relates, established by this Constitution for the Federation and for the States, specified in subsection (5) (a) to (1) of this section, shall be the only superior courts of record in Nigeria; and save as otherwise prescribed by the National Assembly or by the House of Assembly of a State, each court shall have all the powers of a superior court of record.”
Section 36(1): “In the determination of his civil rights and obligations, including any question or determination by or against any government or authority, a person shall be entitled to a fair hearing within a reasonable time by a court or other tribunal established by law and constituted in such manner as to secure its independence and impartiality.”
HURIWA therefore expressed disappointment that Lai Mohammed could claim to be speaking for the Federal Government by wrongly asking the People’s Democratic Party and its presidential candidate in the 2019 general elections, Alhaji Atiku Abubakar to apologize to Nigerians for willfully distracting the administration of President Muhammadu Buhari with a frivolous election petition, instead of appealing the ruling of Wednesday’s Presidential Election Petition Tribunal. The Rights group said the statement attributed to Lai Mohammed is a disgraceful and repugnant to both good conscience and rational thinking.
HURIWA recalled that the Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, stated this in a statement issued on Thursday from St Petersburg, Russia just as according to him, instead of casting aspersion on the judiciary with their poorly-framed reaction to the ruling of the Tribunal, the PDP and its candidate should be thanking their stars that they are not being prosecuted for coming to court with fraudulently-obtained evidence.
HURIWA dismissed these statements by Lai Mohammed as the ranting of someone who does not wish President Muhammadu Buhari well but it’s remarkably shows that Lai Mohammed is disloyal to the President through his show of disdainful sycophancy.