filing of a backdoor petition: More than 400 attorneys express concern about the lives of whistleblowers

filing of a backdoor petition: More than 400 attorneys express concern about the lives of whistleblowersAsk SDP to provide legitimate petition filing proofs within the allotted 21 days.

Say the Tribunal Secretary's allegations of an attack are dubious and need to be looked into

Ask President Tinubu and the heads of security to defend colleagues and apprehend those who incite violence.

On Friday, more than four hundred attorneys expressed concern about ongoing threats made by some supporters of the Social Democratic Party and its candidate for governor to the life of one of their colleagues, Barr. Yetunde Olubunmi Shaibu, the convener of the United Front for Democracy (UFD).

Under the auspices of the Committee for the Defence of Democracy, the lawyers representing all six geopolitical zones in the county said that this came about as a result of UFD's disclosure of what they believed to be a covert attempt by the Social Democratic Party and its candidate for governor to file a petition through the backdoor and backdate the results of the November 11 election in order to avoid the provisions of the Electoral Act, after failing to do so within the legally mandated 21-day window.

Speaking at an impromptu news conference in Abuja in front of twenty representatives of the organization representing their zones, the attorneys described as dubious the Tribunal Secretary's allegation that he was attacked and petitions were taken shortly after the incident.

They said that since Shaibu's organization raised the alarm on Monday of this week, she has been the target of numerous threats and that her family members have been subjected to constant harassment for no other reason than that she participated in a patriotic act to defend democracy and demanded an investigation into a significant matter following careful investigation.

"An injury to one is an injury to all of us," the lawyers urged President Bola Ahmed Tinubu, security chiefs, and all other pertinent authorities to take every precaution to protect their colleague.

Threats of this kind must not be ignored, they emphasized, given the state of insecurity in Nigeria at the moment and the lawlessness that is being displayed, particularly by desperate politicians in Kogi State and elsewhere. These politicians have even made their evil intentions known on public platforms.

"All threats to her life must not be taken for granted but thoroughly investigated and the culprits and their sponsors nabbed before they carry out their nefarious criminality," stated Barr. Ambrose Ajoyo Omoleaupen, Esq., the Convener of CDD, who briefed the press on behalf of others.

He claimed that a closer examination of the circumstances surrounding the current issue—the petition filed by the relevant political parties in Kogi State—was necessary in light of the most recent development, which involved a danger to the life of their colleague.

"It is instructive to note that suddenly after the whistleblowing, as if to lend credence to UFD's allegations, the Secretary of the Tribunal raised the alarm, in a manner that seemed an attempt to cover up something," the laywers said in reference to this. "He had been attacked by armed hoodlums, and all documents related to the petition had been taken away at gunpoint while on his way to the office from his hotel room."

As attorneys, we work with verifiable facts and evidence, not conjecture. Based on this, we have determined to investigate certain crucial aspects of the entire incident and reveal the facts in order to advance democracy and justice, which are the shared responsibilities of all citizens. We have done this without affecting the processes that are presently in progress.

First of all, election petitions are naturally lengthy, especially when they involve petitions allegedly filed by four (4) political parties. It is questionable as to why the Secretary of the Tribunal was in possession of so many documents when they ought to have been stored securely in an office.

"You cannot be cruising the town with so many delicate and large-scale documents that dictate the mere existence of a petition.

"Secondly, the Social Democratic Party, in particular, has not seen it appropriate to provide in the public realm legitimate proof that it filed any petition to the tribunal, even a full week after the alleged filing and public accusations that none was made. The Election Petition Tribunal ought to have provided the petitioners with at least counterpart copies, receipts, or acknowledgement records.

If the SDP possessed any of these records, in our judgment, it would have made them available to the public minutes or hours after the whistleblower made accusations against it. It further raises reasonable doubts as to the veracity of any petition submitted by SDP or any other Party for that matter on the Kogi State governorship election within the constitutionally stipulated 21-day limit if it is not done within a reasonable time span, which should not be more than 12 hours after such serious allegations were made against it.

To the best of our knowledge, the SDP has not provided any documentation or proof that it filed a petition within the legally permitted window in any of its public remarks made up to this point. Its only activity has been to refute accusations. We ought to inquire as to whether the armed thugs also attacked the SDP's legal team and took any copies or receipts related to the petition with them.

The SDP has been extremely vocal about the incident, even taking on the role of spokesperson for the tribunal's secretary, who they claimed was 'working' on their petition at the time of the attack. It is also somewhat interesting to note that the other three political parties mentioned as having filed their own petitions have also been noticeably silent.

It seems strange that the purported theft of the petitions surfaced only after the Parties claimed that they had not filed the petitions. Anywhere, that would be difficult to sell.

Nonetheless, the attorneys raised important queries:

"At what point did the SDP candidate for governorship pay to get his petition filed? He filed it where? In the Tribunal Secretary's hotel room or the Tribunal Secretariat?

Why wasn't the quantity of petitions filed prior to the tribunal's relocation to Abuja displayed at the tribunal secretariat?

Is it appropriate from a procedural standpoint for the Secretary of the Tribunal to accept petitions for elections in his hotel room? Why was it that only the SDP knew about the purported assault on the secretary and the person making allegations to support him?

"In precisely what location did the Witnesses affix their oaths of office? When and did they all sign in person in front of him?

The attorneys pressed the Tribunal Secretary to publicly display the receipt of the three additional parties' petitions, which he said had been filed.

Trying to replace the core principles of justice by undermining election-related norms is counterproductive to democracy and the rule of law.

"We want to urge all pertinent security agencies to look into and identify the source of this absurd but serious incident thoroughly," they said.


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