The Nigerian Bar Association (NBA) has urged elected public officials to avoid possible attempts to influence election petitions across the country
The NBA president, Paul Usoro, made the call on Wednesday in a congratulatory message to the inaugurated officials, signed by the association’s National Publicity Secretary, Tunde Edun.
According to the statement, the NBA president urged the elected officials to avoid any temptation to influence the decision of the bench with regards to any election matter currently in court.
The association, which noted the importance of democracy to Nigeria as to any other country, also advised public officials to uphold the independence of the judiciary as a requisite for the growth of democracy.
“President, Paul Usoro SAN on behalf of National Officers and members of the Nigerian Bar Association commemorates with Nigerians as the nation witnesses the inauguration of elected leaders in the Executive arm of government for a new term of four years.
“The NBA President states that the experience of the last twenty years has evidently shown that there is no substitute for democracy, but for citizens to reap the full benefits of any democracy, government must be consciously dedicated to the observance of the rule of law at all times.
“The NBA President further states that one of the indices of respect of the rule of law is the strengthening of the independence of the Judiciary,” the statement highlighted.
It added a call by the association’s president for the obedience of court orders and the establishment of friendly policies for the development of Nigerian democracy.
“The Nigerian Bar Association shall not hesitate to always call on the other arms of government not to weaken the judicial arm of government. It is pertinent for government at all levels to obey and abide by orders of courts.
“In this light, the NBA president brings to fore the pending election petitions challenging some of the elections that heralded the inaugurations the nation is witnessing today. It is the hope of the Bar that the Heads of governments being sworn in today shall not unduly influence the Bench, as doing so would be a contravention of the oaths of office taken today.’
At the last update from the Court of Appeal, there were 766 election petitions in various tribunals across the country.
Most prominent of these is the petition filed by the opposition, Peoples Democratic Party, against the ruling All Progressives Congress challenging the election of the incumbent President, Muhammadu Buhari for a second term.
The PDP had also alleged controversial links between the President of the Court of Appeal, Zainab Bulkachuwa, and the APC. This allegation resulted in Mrs Bulkachuwa’s recusal from the presidential election tribunal.
The NBA had also condemned, in strong terms, the indictment of the embattled Chief Justice, Welter Onnoghen, by the executive arm of government shortly before the inauguration of the election tribunal.
According to the association, Mr Onnoghen’s indictment which resulted in his removal from office amounted to attempts by the executive to gag the judiciary.