Less than two weeks after the Presidential Election Petition Tribunal affirmed President Muhammadu Buhari’s electoral victory, the Coalition of United Political Parties (CUPP), on Friday, accused the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) of a plot to influence the selection of new Supreme Court justices.
The coalition includes the main opposition party, PDP, whose candidate, Atiku Abubakar, lost at the presidential petitions tribunal.
The PDP and Mr Abubakar have indicated their intention to head to the Supreme Court after the tribunal loss.
The coalition alleged that the ruling party, with the assistance of “friends in the judiciary” plans “to hurriedly appoint five new justices into the apex court as “Plan B” to sit on the appeal made by the PDP presidential candidate”.
At a press conference in Abuja, the coalition spokesperson, Ikenga Imo, said they “intercepted a secret list of handpicked justices in violation of the Supreme Court tradition of seven most senior justices”.
“Those scary days where the institution of democracy and unconstitutional governance are raped to suit the political ambition of one man are finally upon us. We warned of a day like this when the principle of constitutional governance, free speech, right to fair and transparent judicial pronouncements will be sacrificed on the altar of the dictatorial tendencies of one man.
“Today the judiciary has been finally captured, today justice is no longer about justice but about the judge you know. Today, the rule of law and principle of constitutional democracy is about to be sacrificed like the biblical sacrificial lamb, not to save the nation but to keep one man in office,” he said.
The group accused the ruling party, APC, of working with some high ranking members of the judiciary to “constitute members of the presidential election panel with justices whose only reason of being selected is the guaranteed assurance that no matter what the law says, the president must be returned and affirmed against all known principle our constitutional governance.”
The coalition also alleged a “sudden change in the proposed screening of the nominated Justices of Supreme Court and the suspicion of a plot to stop the Acting Chief of Judge of the Federal High Court, John Tsoho, who is also the most senior judge from becoming the substantive Chief Judge based on ethnic and religious sentiments”.
It is not clear if Mr Abubakar and the PDP have officially filed for an appeal at the Supreme Court after the tribunal gave its verdict as their lawyers have not been responding to several calls from our judicial correspondents on the issue.
The APC spokesperson, Lanre Onisa-Ilu, did not respond to multiple calls and messages from the reporter, who wanted a reaction to the allegations.