By Ifeanyi Ochonogor
Former President of the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA) and Civil Liberties Organization (CLO), Mr Olisa Agbakoba, SAN, has reversed his earlier position that the presidential candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and former Vice President of Nigeria, Atiku Abubakar should not bother to challenge the declaration of President Muhammadu Buhari as winner of the bloody February 23, 2019 presidential election in Court.
The legal luminary made his new position known on Wednesday, March 6, on his Facebook page. The full text reads:
Now That Atiku Has Decided To Go To Court, I Fully Support Him
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. 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 Abubakar 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, Hon. Justice Walter Onnoghen and the appointment of the Acting Chief Justice of Nigeria. My perception is that we need to resolve the status of the Supreme Court. I wonder what is taking the National Judicial Council so long. I am also worried about the historical precedent, as no petition on Presidential Election result has ever succeeded.
As one of Nigeria’s experienced Election Petition lawyers, I know 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.
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 Former Vice President, Atiku Abubakar and President Muhammadu Buhari is about 4 million votes.
It is clear to me that the Presidential Election results were manifestly riddled with electoral irregularities. Now that Former Vice President, Atiku Abubakar has approached the Court, it is important to emphasize that he is constitutionally entitled to do so. My personal advice has become irrelevant. I fully support and wish Former Vice President, Atiku Abubakar every success.